It was a barn-burner Friday night when the Heat hosted the Langara Falcons in front of a roaring and raucous crowd, but in the end the Heat managed to edge their opponents 68-61. Mack Roth was named the East Side Mario’s Player of the Game for his game-high 19 points, including 5 three-pointers, carrying over the team’s stroke with the 3-ball last weekend.
It was a tight back-and-forth scoring and defensive tug-of-war all game long, with only 1 point differences in the score after the 2nd and 3rd quarters (33-32 and 51-50, respectively). Mack Roth was feeling it the first half when he connected on 4/9 from the field including 3/4 from downtown, culminating in 11 first-half points. Steve Morrison was not afraid to get physical around the rim as he grabbed down 9 boards in the first half alone. Ed Dane Medi put in his fair share of work cleaning up the glass, coming off the bench to score 8 points and grab a game-high 10 rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
With the score still neck and neck after coming out of the half the gymnasium started to blare with roaring, heckling and cheering fans. Chants of “U-B-C what? U-B-C O!” echoed loudly and fans did their best to unnerve Falcon players while they were at the charity stripe. Fans decked out in blue and yellow face and body paint got down on the floor with the team’s mascot and flag carrier to pump up the crowd during half-time and timeouts. “We always get amped up whenever one of our guys score,” devoted Heat fan Will Patterson emphatically admitted.
The game was fast-paced, with both teams combining for 133 shot attempts. “We expected a high-velocity game, and we got it,” commented Mack Roth. The Falcons shot considerably better than the Heat (42% vs. 32%) but the Heat forced more turnovers and grabbed almost ten more offensive rebounds, which turned into 15 second chance points (the Falcons only had 4). Medi grabbed 6 offensive boards, helping attribute to an easy 8 points on his 4/5 from the field.
Probably feeling inspired by his younger brother, Alex Roth came out big in the second half, finishing with 15 points (second in the game only to Mack), grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. “If he has a shot, we want him to take it,” commented younger brother Mack. “He’s a really competitive guy. We kind of joke that when he gets the ball and the full-court gets going, it’s kind of like a freight train coming at you. 220 [lbs] takes a long time to get going but once it gets going you don’t want to step in front of it.”
When the game was coming down to the wire late in the 4th, Micah Cockrill re-found the stroke he had last weekend against Douglas College, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to help get the Heat ahead. Coach Semeniuk then called a couple time-outs in the closing minutes wherein he expertly helped coordinated his players into making a number of key defensive stops and rebounds, forcing the Falcons to give away fouls and give them free-throws, which culminated in their pulling away to the 68-61 victory, despite 15 lead changes and 7 ties throughout the course of the game.
“It’s awesome having all the fans out, supporting us,” Mack commented after the game, to the sound of vigorous cheers still ringing in the background. The game was hyped up by Athletics staff throughout the day at UBC Okanagan, including the team’s mascot, Ogopogo, standing out with signs at the traffic circles leading into the University. The crowd came alright, and played a big part in motivating the team to the win. “It’s always motivating for us,” Mack added.
The Heat are set to play a rematch with the Falcons again Saturday night. Tip-off is at 6pm, following the women’s team game at 4.