Men’s Basketball (Canada West conference play)
War Memorial Gymnasium, Vancouver, B.C.
|Score by Periods||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Total|
|UBC Okanagan||21||12||21||23||77||Record: (3-17)|
VANCOUVER, B.C. - The UBC Okanagan Heat men’s basketball team took to center court at War Memorial Gymnasium Saturday night with a chip on their shoulder and a bone to pick with their sister school’s team in the Thunderbirds. Despite a Herculean defensive effort and superior presence in the paint, the Heat were ultimately quelled in a heartbreaking 85-77 loss that was not even close to decided until the final seconds.
Things looked up for the Heat, who bounced back from a defeat to the Thunderbirds the night before with a new kind of vigor. A trey by fifth-year guard Landry Ndayitwayeko (Windsor, ON) early on would give the Heat a 9-6 lead and the confidence that they were capable of beating this Thunderbirds’ squad.
Yet, in a game where the lead would change hands six times, neither team was going to give any breathing room as the Thunderbirds sought to keep their playoff hopes alive while the Heat hounded them for the upset.
The game would become largely a battle of perimeter plays and expert slashing to the rim as key post players for both teams could not stay out of foul trouble. UBC’s David Wagner would only see 18 minutes of floor time though he wound up with eight points. Meanwhile the Heat’s Stuart Wallensteen (Nanaimo, BC) picked up a very quick two fouls in the first quarter and would pick up three and four in short order come the second half. He would play 11 minutes and put up three points.
The lack of Wagner manning the middle gave room for the Heat to sky for rebound after rebound. The Heat outdid their opponents on the glass 33-28 and scored eight more second-chance points, though the Thunderbirds outscored the Heat in total paint points 30-22.
A good old-fashioned shootout would breakout between the Heat’s second-year Mitch Goodwin (Kelowna, BC) and the Thunderbirds’ Andrew McGuinness, as they would trade blows from deep all game long. Goodwin sunk three shots from beyond the arc (3-8) and finished with 17 points and five rebounds. McGuinness bested Goodwin by a single point with 18 and was 4-7 from range.
“I wish we had had one more quarter,” Goodwin would comment post-game with respect to the back-court duel between the teams all game long.
The Heat would go on a 7-0 run to end the second quarter, keeping the Thunderbirds scoreless in the final 4:26 of the half.
Goodwin would get his team going again during a third quarter deficit when he buried a trey as a foul was called away from the ball. With the Heat inbounding the ball Goodwin would wind up sinking a pull up jumper from the left elbow for five straight points and to bring his team within one.
The Thunderbirds’ four-year man Tommy Nixon seemed to have an answer for every big play that the Heat threw down. Nixon led the game with 25 points and clocked a lot of miles in 36 minutes of play. However, it was Harpreet Randhawa that continually doused the Heat comeback attempts in the fourth quarter as he punished lapses in the Heat’s interior defense to try and stave the Heat off.
A 6-2 run to start the fourth brought the Heat within two of the Thunderbirds, but Nixon and Randhawa would continue to find ways to respond. However, though the Thunderbirds continued to try and smother the Heat once and for all, like a Phoenix from the ashes the Heat surged on.
With their backs against the wall in the latter half of the fourth, fifth-year guard and captain Yassine Ghomari (Vancouver, BC) tried to put his team on the back and keep them within striking range. On one play Ghomari would drive into the paint and execute a graceful spin in the paint before drilling a fadeaway jumper to bring his team back within six, 76-70. David Manshreck (Vancouver, BC) would also clutch up with a three-ball to bring things within five a few plays later.
Still, the Heat were not able to complete the comeback, though Ghomari would have final say in the contest as he drained one last three at the final buzzer.
Ghomari and Goodwin combined for 37 points and netted a triple three times each. The vertically gifted Goodwin also managed five rebounds. Third-year guard James Lum (Vancouver, BC) played big minutes off the bench for the Heat, going for 10 points while dishing out a game-high seven assists.
Alongside Nixon and McGuinness, Randhawa completed a 14 point night for the Thunderbirds on 4-7 shooting. Nixon and Randhawa also both grabbed seven boards, the highest individual rebound totals tied with the Heat’s Manshreck.
UBC move to 11-9 on the season and can secure a playoff spot with two wins over Victoria. It is possible for them to lose one or both games next weekend and still qualify for the postseason but it all depends on other results going their way. Two wins would guarantee a trip to the Canada West quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, the Heat are back at home next Thursday night for their final home stand of the season versus the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. and before the game the Athletics Department will honour a quartet of graduating players in Ghomari, Ndayitwayeko, Mike Zayonc (North Vancouver, BC) and Ed Dane Medi (Rome, IT).
- With notes from Wilson Wong (Manager, Sports Information – UBC Thunderbirds)