The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team continued its impressive play to start the season, dispatching the MacEwan Griffins 97-56 at the Envision Athletic Centre on Saturday night.
Brandon Burke came off the bench to rack up a game-high 20 points, and Kevon Parchment and Navjot Bains registered 16 points apiece in what was a clinical display by the hometown Cascades (4-0). Denzel James paced the Griffins (1-3) with 13 points.
The hosts were playing without injured starters Nate Brown and Mark Johnson, but got tremendous team-wide contributions to win decisively despite those key absences.
“It started with leadership from our core guys . . . recognizing that hey, life just got a little bit tougher due to injury,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said. “We trusted everyone on the team, we spaced the floor, we shared the basketball. We knew we had to play with pace and move the basketball, and make the simple play. A lot of guys got a lot of good opportunities out of it, and it happened today that we shot the ball well.”
The Cascades were coming off a 74-64 win over the Griffins on Friday, and the first quarter of Saturday’s rematch saw six lead changes as momentum swung like a metronome in ¾ time. UFV scored seven straight points to end the quarter, highlighted by a Burke three-pointer, to stake out a 25-19 lead heading into the second.
A James trey would get MacEwan to within one, but from there the Cascades controlled the play, ending the second quarter on a 25-5 run to blow the game open. UFV shot 52.6 per cent from the field in the first half while MacEwan went just 10-for-35 (28.6 per cent). The result was a commanding 50-29 Cascade lead at halftime.
It was more of the same in the third quarter as MacEwan struggled to contain the UFV offence. Marcus Morgan went 3-for-5 from beyond the arc in the frame to help UFV add 25 points to its tally and while MacEwan tried their best to keep up, they found themselves trailing by 31 heading into the final quarter.
Another 15-3 run in the fourth cemented the win and the weekend sweep for the Cascades, who ended up shooting 49.3 per cent from the field and 45.2 per cent (14-for-31) from beyond the arc. MacEwan, conversely, managed to knock down just 31.9 per cent of their attempts from the field and 22.2 per cent from three-point range.
Morgan (14 points, 4-for-7 from three) and Vijay Dhillon (12 points, 4-for-8 from three) were deadly from downtown for the Cascades, while Thadius Galvez and Atlas St. Paul-Butler contributed 12 points each for the Griffins.
“We were moving the ball, playing with each other (on offence), and playing really good help-side defence – just playing as one,” said third-year forward Bains, who registered eight rebounds and four assists to go with his 16 points.
“My mentality is just to get better right now – to be more consistent, especially with a few of our guys out right now. I’ve just got to pick up the slack and do the best I can until we’re back as a unit.”
With the win, UFV sits tied with the Thompson Rivers WolfPack atop the Explorer Division at 4-0. MacEwan and three other teams are tied for third at 1-3.
“Brandon and Nav were huge,” Friesen said. “They were crucial for our offensive output and winning the game like we did. Having guys step up, taking advantage of an opportunity and staying ready, is awesome.
“When you’re coming in off the bench in certain situations and you see that the starters, guys who have been here for a few years, have that sort of confidence in you, it can really work wonders. You saw that tonight.”
Up next for the Cascades is a visit to Prince George for a weekend series against the UNBC Timberwolves. MacEwan also heads north as they’ll take on Thompson Rivers.
– by Russell Arbuthnot, UFV Cascades communications staff