Berrios nets game-high five three pointers on the way to career night 25 points, but Heat ultimately cannot recoup deficit as high as 28 points as Mount Royal wins season series 3-1. School raises $285 through CIS Shoot for the Cure initiative.
Men's Basketball (Canada West conference play)
|Mount Royal (6-6)||25||17||27||16||85|
|UBC Okanagan (2-10)||14||13||17||26||70|
KELOWNA, B.C. – The visiting Mount Royal Cougars spoiled a career night for Heat men’s basketball rookie Aldrich Berrios’, whose 25 points were not enough in a game-long uphill battle that saw the Cougars take the season series 3-1 in an 85-70 final.
After a quick 10-4 lead four minutes into the game quickly turned for the home team Heat, who found themselves playing behind for the duration of the contest. Opening up the third quarter was a three-pointer by fourth-year Cougars forward Manok Awkl, which pushed Mount Royal's lead to their highest margin of 28 at 72-44.
Bad went to worse for the Heat, who saw a key rotation piece in rookie forward Noma Obaseki (East Vancouver, BC) go down with an ankle injury after being on pace to break the team’s single-game rebounding record. He would finish with 11 rebounds for the game in 19 minutes of floor time before exiting with 3:50 to go in the third quarter.
Instead of emptying the benches, Heat coach Pete Guarasci decided to keep at it with a slew of his starters and his regular rotation for the final ten minute stretch. His guys dug deep and despite continued heroics from the game’s leading scorer in the Cougars’ James Lefebrve (Didsbury, AB), who wrapped up with a season-high 27, the Heat would win the fourth-quarter battle 26-16 to cut the lead in half by the final buzzer.
“Anytime that you feel that you’re learning and growing, that’s what keeps you motivated, that’s exciting when you see that you’re improving,” said Heat assistant coach of Leadership and Mental Training Gene Wolverton postgame.
The Okanagan defense was unable to do much in mitigating the good looks by the Cougars, who shot a solid 48% from the field and even made 41 trips to the line, making 24.
Perhaps surprisingly, even with starting forward David Manshreck sitting out the game along with Obaseki leaving late, the Heat managed to outrebound Mount Royal 43-34. Turnovers were the worst enemy for the home squad, though, as they coughed it up 18 times which would lead to 21 points off of turnovers on the night.
Behind Lefebvre’s 27 point, 7 rebound night, Derek Wolf (Penticton, BC) and Deng Awak (Brooks, AB) joined in double digit scoring with 15 and 11 points, respectively. Wolf also collected a team-high eight boards. Akwl was the leading distributor with five assists and he added nine points as well.
Berrios was by far the focal point of the offense tonight for UBC Okanagan, though Ryan Linttell (Kelowna, BC) did add a big 14 points coming off of the bench. Linttell also led with three assists and made seven of ten free-throw attempts.
UBC Okanagan is now 2-10 for the season, while Mount Royal improves to 6-6. The Heat hit the road next weekend to visit the undefeated Fraser Valley Cascades. Meanwhile, the Cougars return home to host the UNBC Timberwolves. Tip-off will be 8 p.m. PST Friday night in Abbotsford and 8 p.m. MST in Calgary.
The Heat know that they have a tall task ahead next weekend., but Wolverton is confident his guys will tackle it full force and head on. Quoting Ben Hogan, he said that “Everyone thinks that greatness is ‘sexy,’ but it takes dirty hard work.” He went on to add that, “Your choice creates your challenge, so it’s the choices that you are going to make that are going to have an impact.”
Speaking to the bevy of injuries the team has recently sustained, most recently with Obaseki and also Linttell in the waning moments of the contest, Wolverton also said that, “As soon as guys go down we can’t focus on what we can’t do, we have to focus on what we can do.” He went on to stress that it also meant more playing time for other guys who can now step up and work hard in practice this week in preparation for the weekend.
Watch the action online and stream live stats at canadawest.tv.
HEAT NOTES…The CIS Shoot for the Cure night was tonight, and UBC Okanagan collected $285 through various donations, t-shirt sales, and raffle tickets. The CIS has raised over $760,000 since 2007 towards cancer research, $633,000 of which has gone to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation alone.