The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team fell behind by double digits in the first quarter on Friday evening and were unable to recover, dropping an 86-61 decision to the Victoria Vikes in the Canada West semifinals.
In the opening game of the conference Final Four, hosted by the University of Saskatchewan, the Vikes raced out to an 11-0 lead and led by as many as 17 points in the opening frame.
The Cascades clawed their way back to within six points (39-33) with just over a minute left in the second quarter, but Victoria got the lead up to 45-36 at halftime and then began the third quarter on an 8-2 run. They pulled away from there, en route to a wire-to-wire win.
UVic punched its ticket to the CIS Final 8 national championship tournament for the third straight year, and will play the winner on Friday’s late semifinal featuring the host Saskatchewan Huskies and the UBC Thunderbirds for the Canada West title at 6 p.m. Pacific time Saturday.
The Cascades face the Sask-UBC loser in the bronze medal game at 4 p.m. Saturday (webcast at ufv.canadawest.tv).
“I think we could have played a lot better in the first two or three minutes of each half,” said Cascades head coach Adam Friesen, whose team was making its fourth consecutive Final Four appearance but suffered a third straight semifinal loss.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the first quarter and the third quarter, and playing a quality opponent like Victoria, you give yourselves such a limited chance for success that way.”
The Cascades got strong performances from guard Kevon Parchment (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and power forward Nate Brown (14 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field, two blocks). Fifth-year post players Jasper Moedt and Kadeem Willis also scored in double figures with 10 points apiece.
But UFV, so stingy defensively all season long, allowed the Vikes to shoot 51.6 per cent from the field, including 43.5 per cent (10-for-23) from three-point range.
The Cascades, by way of contrast, struggled from beyond the arc, going just 4-for-22 (18.2 per cent) from downtown and shooting 41.4 per cent from the field overall. They were also out-rebounded (31-25) and turned the ball over more often (17-12) than did the Vikes, and Victoria had a 20-4 edge in points off turnovers.
Four Vikes scored in double digits, led by Saskatoon native Mack Roth with a game-high 19 points. Canada West MVP Chris McLaughlin added another 17 points, while Marcus Tibbs notched 15 points and 11 rebounds and Reiner Theil chipped in 15 points and nine boards.
“We have good leadership and we have a couple fifth-years that want to really end things off on a positive note,” Friesen said, looking ahead to the bronze medal game. “We’ve got to go out there and compete and give it our best shot.”