In light of the circumstances, the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team’s 83-62 victory over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on Friday evening was rather impressive.
The WolfPack were battling for a playoff berth – they came in with a two-game lead over the Mount Royal Cougars in the race for the third and final Explorer Division playoff spot with two games to play. MRU owns the tiebreaker and could secure the last post-season spot with a pair of weekend wins over the MacEwan Griffins combined with two TRU losses to UFV.
But on Friday, it was the Cascades who came out like they had everything to play for – they scorched the WolfPack 19-6 in the opening frame, and went on to out-rebound TRU 52-33 and limit the visitors to 29.3 per cent shooting from the field.
Afterward, head coach Adam Friesen explained that the Cascades were motivated to put in a better performance than they had the previous Saturday, when they fell 69-57 on the road to the UNBC Timberwolves.
“We weren’t very pleased with how last Saturday went for us,” he explained. “UNBC kind of played us in a playoff-type environment, and we didn’t respond well. We understood today’s game was going to be like a playoff game (for TRU), and we wanted to match that so we can get prepared for the playoffs a couple weeks from now.”
The Cascades came out like they’d been shot out of a cannon, and power forward Nate Brown led their game-opening run with eight points in the first quarter.
UFV led 39-24 at halftime, and extended the lead beyond 20 points in the third quarter, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk (see video, below) and a three-pointer on back-to-back possessions from Kadeem Willis.
Willis racked up a game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, while Kevon Parchment (17 points) and Brown (13) also scored in double figures.
Joe Davis, with 10 points, was the lone TRU player to score in double figures.
“Kadeem’s energy was phenomenal,” Friesen said. “He had lots of opportunities to make stuff happen, and he really capitalized on it.”
UFV improved to 17-2, while TRU fell to 10-9. The WolfPack desperately need a win in Saturday’s rematch (7 p.m. tip-off, Envision Athletic Centre) in the wake of Mount Royal improved to 9-10 on the season with a 71-63 homecourt win over MacEwan.
Saturday is Senior Night for the UFV basketball teams – fifth-year players Willis and Jasper Moedt, along with graduating women’s hoopsters Sarah Wierks and Celeste Dyck, will be honoured in a ceremony between the women’s and men’s games.