With the playoffs looming, the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team appears to be peaking at the right time.
On Saturday evening at the Envision Athletic Centre, the Cascades put the finishing touches on an impressive weekend sweep of the CIS No. 9-ranked Thompson Rivers WolfPack. They prevailed 67-62, on the heels of an 82-79 triumph on Friday.
The Cascades improved to 12-6, good for second place in the Explorer Division, while the first-place WolfPack fell to 14-4. Each team has two regular-season games remaining – UFV hits the road to face the Mount Royal Cougars in Calgary next weekend, while TRU hosts UBC Okanagan.
“Great weekend for the guys,” UFV head coach Adam Friesen summarized. “We’re getting healthy at the right time and building momentum, and hopefully we can carry it into playoffs.”
Speaking of momentum, fourth-year guard Vijay Dhillon gave his team a bundle of it by opening the game scalding-hot from beyond the arc. The Richmond, B.C. product hit his first five attempts from three-point land, the fifth coming less than a minute into the second quarter and staking UFV to a 21-11 lead.
“We really talked about coming out with energy and having a good first five minutes of the game, and Vijay really sparked us in that regard,” Friesen noted.
The WolfPack, though, closed the second quarter on a 17-6 run, cutting the deficit to 30-28 at the break.
The Cascades tightened up the defence coming out of halftime, keeping TRU off the scoreboard entirely for the first three and a half minutes of the third quarter while expanding the lead to eight. They led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, but the WolfPack clawed their way back behind some strong play off the bench from Jeff Tubbs, who scored all nine of his points in the final frame. A Tubbs layup with 2:38 remaining knotted the score 60-60.
UFV regained control thanks to huge buckets from Kevon Parchment and Brandon Burke. Parchment, the Cascades’ outstanding fifth-year guard who was celebrating his Senior Night, soared for a sensational up-and-under reverse layup to make it 62-60. After TRU’s Josh Wolfram missed from beyond the arc, Burke (6’4”) found a mismatch in the post against WolfPack point guard Reese Pribilsky (6’0”) and spun to the baseline to extend the lead to four with 59.8 seconds remaining.
The Cascades avoided any late-game drama from there, as Parchment went 3-for-4 from the free throw line.
Parchment posted a game-high 20 points to go with seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Dhillon finished with 17 points and Manny Dulay scored 11. Navjot Bains hauled down 10 boards.
Wolfram paced the WolfPack with 16 points, and Volodymyr Iegorov (12 points) and Pribilisky (10) also scored in double figures.
The Cascades didn’t shoot the ball very well as a team, hitting just 35.9 per cent of their attempts from the field, but they limited TRU to 27.4 per cent shooting.
“Kevon’s weekend was just spectacular,” Friesen said. “Whether he’s having a hot shooting night or not, all the things he does on the floor makes us the team we are.
“And we don’t win this game without our four post players (Bains, Burke, Matt Cooley and Nate Brown) playing tremendous defence on their big guys.”