Cascades fend off Wesmen’s comeback, win exhibition tourney opener

Mark Johnson had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Cascades on Friday. (UFV Athletics file photo)

Mark Johnson had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Cascades on Friday. (UFV Athletics file photo)

The University of The Fraser Valley men’s basketball team held off the Winnipeg Wesmen down the stretch to record a 71-64 victory at the 2015 Lea Marc Printing Men’s Basketball Tournament on Friday evening.

In the opening game of the exhibition tourney at the University of Winnipeg’s Dr. David F. Anderson Gymnasium, the Cascades held a 20-point lead (48-28) midway through the third quarter, but needed every ounce of energy to hold off a fast-charging Wesmen squad.

Fourth-year power forward Nate Brown was the Cascades’ top scorer with 15 points, while newcomer Mark Johnson contributed 14 points and nine rebounds. Vijay Dhillon also scored in double figures, counting a trio of three-pointers among his 11 points.

“We kind of played a little hot and cold,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said. “We got ourselves a lead, but weren’t able to hold it on a couple of occasions. Winnipeg really played heard and showed a lot of heart, and made some great runs back at us.

“We showed flashes of playing some really good basketball, and having balanced scoring isn’t anything new for us. Our good stretches were really good and our poor stretches weren’t great. We’ve just got to work on being more consistent.”

The two teams were deadlocked at 12 after the opening quarter, but the Cascades found some breathing room in the second, outscoring the Wesmen 24-12 in the frame to carry a 36-24 lead into the halftime break.

In the third quarter, after UFV built a 20-point lead, Winnipeg responded with a 15-4 run, sparked by three-pointers by Jamar Farley and Jelane Pryce.

The hosts opened the fourth quarter on a 12-3 run to start the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 57-55 with seven minutes remaining in the contest, but the Cascades went on a late run to secure the victory.

Winnipeg was led by guard Denzel Lynch-Blair’s 14 points and nine rebounds. Pryce, the Wesmen’s senior star, added 12 points, but the Cascades harassed him into 3-of-19 shooting from the field. Farley finished with 11 points, including three treys.

The Cascades wrap up the tourney against the Manitoba Bisons on Saturday at 8 p.m. Central time. Winnipeg will play Brandon in the early game at 6 p.m.

– with files from Winnipeg Wesmen Athletics

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