Free-throw efficiency powers WolfPack past Cascades

UFV’s Vijay Dhillon absorbs some contact on his way to the hoop. (Cody Stewart / UFV Athletics photos)

The Thompson Rivers WolfPack salvaged a weekend split with the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team, prevailing 79-67 on Saturday evening by playing to their strengths more effectively than did the host Cascades.

The game, contested at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre, was no offensive masterpiece – the victorious WolfPack shot a paltry 33.3 per cent from the field, and the Cascades weren’t much better at 36.8 per cent.

But with fifth-year power forward Volodymyr Iegorov leading the way, the frontcourt-centric TRU squad pounded the ball into the paint and earned 32 free throws, hitting an impressive 29 of them (90.9 per cent). They also earned additional possessions by out-rebounding UFV 49-39.

The Cascades’ Anthony Gilchrist finished with six points and 11 rebounds.

The perimeter-oriented Cascades, meanwhile, have been scorching-hot of late from beyond the arc, but mustered just 25 per cent shooting (8-of-32) from distance on Saturday.

“They did what they do well, and we weren’t able to stop it, really,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen analyzed. “When you let a team get comfortable with what they do well, obviously that can happen.

“There’s one takeaway from this game that can hopefully make us better, and that we needed. We’ve had a hot stretch shooting the ball, especially from deep, but you have games where you’re not going to shoot the ball well. We have to understand that we need a Plan B, finding ways to get extra shots and easier shots – through transition, through defensive effort, through a steal, or through the offensive glass that maybe leads us to a layup or some extra shot attempts.”

The Cascades had a solid start and built a quick 6-2 lead, but the WolfPack responded with a 12-2 run and led the rest of the way. UFV was within 33-30 at halftime, but TRU kept them off the scoreboard for the first four minutes of the third quarter and got the lead into double digits later in the frame.

Iegorov was superb for the visitors – he led the parade to the foul line, going 14-for-16 from the charity stripe en route to a game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds. Trent Monkman rang up 20 points off the TRU bench, and Luke Morris had a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.

Manny Dulay paced the Cascades with 20 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Vijay Dhillon (14 points) and Denver Sparks-Guest (12 points, all in the first half) also scored in double figures, and Anthony Gilchrist hauled down a team-high 11 rebounds.

The two teams were tied for eighth place in Canada West coming in, but the night’s result gave TRU (8-8) sole possession of eighth. UFV is one of four teams tied for ninth at 7-9.

Both teams play at home next weekend – the Cascades host the Victoria Vikes, while the WolfPack welcome the Calgary Dinos to Kamloops.

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