The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the UBC Okanagan Heat 84-76 on Friday evening in Kelowna.
In the Canada West regular season opener for both teams, the Cascades and Heat were tied 55-55 heading into the fourth quarter. But UFV’s offence found its groove at that point, racking up 27 points in the final frame en route to victory.
“I don’t think we came out with the energy and the mindset we needed to play our best,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said afterward. “UBC-O played really well – they executed and played really tough. We had to fight and claw and make plays down the stretch.”
The two teams lock horns again on Saturday at UBC-O, with the women’s game tipping off at 5 p.m. followed by the men at 7 p.m. The games will be webcast at canadawest.tv.
The Heat were picked to finish last in the six-team Explorer Division in the preseason Canada West coaches’ poll, while the Cascades were pegged to finish first. But the youthful UBC-O squad came with a lot of energy on Friday, and led 15-13 after the first quarter. UFV took a five-point lead into halftime (40-35), but the Heat drew even at the end of the third.
Power forward Nate Brown scored seven of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, and Manny Dulay swished a pair of three-pointers in the final frame to help the Cascades gain some separation.
Six UFV players scored in double figures: Brown (20), Kevon Parchment (15), Dulay (13), Dominique Brooks (11), Jasper Moedt (10) and Kadeem Willis (10). Willis also registered a game-high 11 rebounds for the double-double.
Point guard Mitch Goodwin led the Heat with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Friesen said the key for his team down the stretch was taking better care of the basketball. After turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, the Cascades coughed it up just four times after the break.
“We lowered our turnovers, lowered our mistakes,” he said. “We did a better job of rebounding and taking care of the basketball, and gave ourselves a better chance for success.”