The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team rode a balanced attack to an 85-78 road win over the UBC Okanagan Heat in their regular-season finale on Saturday evening.
Andrew Morris’s 14 points were a relatively modest team-high for the Cascades, who saw just two others score in double figures: Manny Dulay and Anthony Gilchrist, both with 10 points. But five other players had at least eight points, highlighted by a nine from 6’10” rookie centre Sukhman Sandhu, tying his career high.
The victory boosted the Cascades’ record to 11-9, while the last-place Heat fell to 2-18.
“Today’s game, we didn’t have the same sort of energy we had yesterday unfortunately,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said, alluding to his team’s 87-72 victory on Friday in Kelowna. “But we were able to stay within striking distance for the first three quarters and make enough clutch plays down the stretch to seal the win.
“Sukhman by far had his best game of the season, which was great to see. The reason we won this game was our guys off the bench. If not for their energy and hustle tonight, the result probably would have been different.”
Looking ahead to the Canada West playoffs, the Cascades are locked into the No. 10 spot in the conference RPI standings meaning they’ll start on the road, but they can’t book their plane tickets just yet. The identity of their opponent depends on the outcome of the final conference game of the year, Sunday’s clash between the Alberta Golden Bears and the Lethbridge Pronghorns. If the Golden Bears win, the Cascades visit the Brandon Bobcats; if the Pronghorns prevail, UFV will face the Winnipeg Wesmen.
On Saturday, the Heat had the Cascades on their heels early, leading 26-21 at the end of the first quarter and 44-42 at the half. UFV reeled off an 8-0 run midway through the third to seize a 57-51 advantage, their largest lead to that juncture, but UBCO rallied to level the score 60-60 heading to the final frame.
The Cascades nursed a one-possession lead in the dying minutes before Vijay Dhillon inserted the dagger in highlight-reel fashion, draining a contested three-pointer from the left wing with just under a minute left in regulation to give UFV an 80-74 cushion. The visitors closed out the win by going a combined 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
The Cascades overcame a terrific shooting night from UBCO’s Aldrich Berrios – he counted five three-pointers among his game-high 24 points. Triston Matthews added 11 points and a team-best seven boards.
BOUNCE PASSES: Dulay’s U Sports-leading 78 three-pointers in conference play in 2016-17 are tied for the third-most in a single Canada West season. . . . The fifth-year point guard ends the campaign second in the conference assists race with 94, two fewer than Ilarion Bonhomme of the Manitoba Bisons. . . . Of their potential playoff foes, the Cascades split a pair of games in Brandon (9-11) in December, and have not faced Winnipeg (12-8) this season.