Dhillon leads balanced attack as Cascades notch preseason win over Spartans

Vijay Dhillon counted five three-pointers among his team-high 19 points as the Cascades beat Trinity Western in exhibition action on Friday. (UFV Athletics file photo)

Vijay Dhillon counted five three-pointers among his team-high 19 points as the Cascades beat Trinity Western in exhibition action on Friday. (UFV Athletics file photo)

Vijay Dhillon knocked down five three-pointers en route to a team-high 19 points as the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team beat the Trinity Western Spartans 90-81 in preseason action on Friday.

Playing at the Langley Events Centre, Dhillon got plenty of offensive support. Mark Johnson came off the bench to stuff the stat sheet with 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while power forward Nate Brown registered 18 points and eight boards. Manny Dulay (15 points) also scored in double figures for the Cascades, while Kelvin Smith’s game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds paced the Spartans.

The two teams complete their home-and-home exhibition set on Saturday at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre. Tip-off is at 6 p.m., and admission is by donation of a non-perishable food item for the Abbotsford Food Bank.

The Cascades raced out to a 10-point lead after 10 minutes on Saturday and never trailed, stretching the lead as high as 29 points in the final minute of the third quarter. The Spartans made a spirited run in the fourth quarter, scoring 36 points in the frame to account for nearly half their total output, and managed to trim the UFV cushion back to single digits in the last minute of regulation.

“We showed that we can play pretty well; we also showed that we can sometimes play not very well,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen analyzed with a wry chuckle. “Consistency in our play, even when the situation is what it is and we have a comfortable lead, is a skill that we’ve just got to get better at.”

TWU was led by the three-pronged attack of Smith, Dean Richey (19 points, 13 rebounds) and Lucas Mannes (15 points, 10 boards), who each had double-doubles.

“There were a lot of positives to take from tonight,” said Spartans first-year head coach Aaron Muhic, who was coaching in his first game against a CIS opponent. “We didn’t play great offensively for 40 minutes, but I really felt Matt Blackaby and Lucas came to compete and left it all out there on the floor. It’s something we can build on for sure.”

Dhillon, a Richmond, B.C. product in his second year with the Cascades, went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc and chipped in with three assists.

“I love his mindset this year,” Friesen said. “He’s much more aggressive, much more assertive in his play . . . he’s looking to be a playmaker. That’s going to be big for our offence this season.”

– with files from Mark Janzen, TWU Athletics

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