The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team kept its perfect record intact, earning a 74-64 victory over the MacEwan Griffins at the Envision Athletic Centre on Friday night.
The Cascades lost swingman Mark Johnson to an apparent knee injury in the first quarter, forcing head coach Adam Friesen to turn to his bench. They wouldn’t disappoint, posting 31 points to help pace the hosts to the victory.
Leading the bench brigade was redshirt freshman Marcus Morgan, whose career-high 17 points were highlighted by 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Fifth-year guard Kevon Parchment tied Morgan for team-high scoring honours and added nine rebounds, while Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon chipped in with 14 points apiece.
Griffins forward Keith Gerdes put in a strong effort, posting 21 points and nabbing seven rebounds on the evening. MacEwan also saw a strong performance from Thomas Jereniuk with 13 points and six boards.
The Cascades (3-0) and Griffins (1-2) clash again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the EAC.
“The boys have really stuck together and showed some good toughness mentally,” Friesen said. “They found a way in the middle of the game to go through some adversity, come out the other side and find a way to win another one.”
The Cascades opened up a slim four-point lead in the first quarter after Parchment and Matt Cooley hit back-to-back jumpers to the end the frame. Neither team was able to make gains in the second quarter, and the Cascades took a 35-31 lead into the halftime break.
In the third, UFV did its best to repeat the phantasmagorical second-half shooting display from last Saturday’s win over UBC Okanagan. They fell shy of that preposterous watermark (73.9 per cent from the field) but they managed a cool 60 per cent. Morgan kicked off a 10-0 run in the final 1:45 of the quarter with two straight treys, and the Winnipeg product put an exclamation mark on the outburst with an emphatic dunk just before time expired, staking the Cascades to a 59-45 lead.
MacEwan did their best to mount a comeback in the final 10 minutes but UFV’s defence held them largely in check.
“I was just put in the right spot,” Morgan said afterward, reflecting on his breakout performance. “Vijay and Manny got me really good looks, and I just knocked them down.
“It felt really good. It was a big team win. We needed people to step up, and I just did my best to try to step up.”
Friesen termed Morgan’s performance “terrific.”
“He knows his role on the team, and knows that when he gets a look, we expect him to put it up,” Friesen said. “In the first quarter, I think he had an opportunity – got a pass in the corner, and he actually passed up the shot. Every single guy on the team told him, ‘You’ve got to shoot the basketball. That’s why you’re on the floor – shoot the ball, man!’
“He stepped up really big, starting knocking down some shots, and that dunk is something he’ll probably remember for a while.”
– by Russell Arbuthnot, UFV Cascades communications staff