The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team was lights-out down the stretch on Friday evening, pulling away late in the fourth quarter for an 80-72 victory over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.
Playing at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre, the Cascades and WolfPack were tied 66-66 with six minutes left in regulation after TRU’s Volodymyr Iegorov swished a three-pointer. But the hosts ended the game on a 14-6 run to move into a tie with the WolfPack and Mount Royal Cougars for eighth place in Canada West. All three teams have 7-8 records.
UFV and TRU clash again on Saturday (7 p.m., Envision Athletic Centre).
“The game was exciting,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen observed. “They (TRU) gave a great effort, and when it came down to that last five-minute stretch of the game and it was neck-and-neck, I’m happy the guys came through and hit some big shots, played together and found a way to pull it out.”
The Cascades’ game-ending run was bookended by three-pointers – Andrew Morris got it started, and Vijay Dhillon finished it with a dagger from the top of the key with a minute to go.
The WolfPack were led by their post players, Iegorov and Joe Davis. Iegorov, a fifth-year power forward from the Ukraine, has a reputation which preceeds him – he was a Canada West third team all-star last season, and he lived up to that billing on Friday with 21 points, six assists and four rebounds.
But it was the less-heralded Davis who was really a handful for the Cascades – he racked up game-high totals for points (25) and rebounds (12).
“That’s the strength of their team,” Friesen said of the TRU frontcourt, “and Joe was phenomenal. He was beating us for his spot pretty much the whole game, and if you allow him to get the basketball where he wants it . . . he has such great hands and he’s able to finish so well, life gets hard.”
The Cascades countered with a balanced attack – six players scored in double figures, led by Morris with 17 points in just 21 minutes off the bench. Anthony Gilchrist, Manny Dulay and Mark Johnson had 13 points apiece, Nav Bains scored 12, and Dhillon chipped in with 10.
UFV racked up 24 assists as a team, one shy of their season high, and that stat was indicative of the unselfish ball movement that defined their most effective offensive stretches of the night.
“We’re not great at one-on-one – we don’t have many physical advantages out on the court,” Friesen said. “But I think we have a lot of guys who can be threats and can make shots and can make good passes and can make plays with the ball. If we play together and everyone stays aggressive and moving, we can find a good shot and it doesn’t matter who gets it.”
The WolfPack out-rebounded the Cascades 43-34, but UFV made up for that by swiping a season-high 16 steals with Dulay (six) and Gilchrist (five) getting the lion’s share.