The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team has found success this season in lockstep with a series of historic individual performances from Manny Dulay, and it seemed appropriate that they followed a similar blueprint on Friday as they clinched a Canada West playoff berth.
Taking on UBC Okanagan in Kelowna, the Cascades and Heat were deadlocked 40-40 at halftime. But Dulay sparked a massive third-quarter run which saw the visitors outscore the hosts 30-10 in the frame, and they cruised from there, winning 87-72 to improve to 10-9 and punch their post-season ticket. It’s the eighth straight season that the UFV men’s basketball program will appear in the Canada West playoffs.
Dulay reached a career milestone in the process. The fifth-year point guard hit his second, third and fourth three-pointers of the night during that scorching third-quarter stretch, giving him 240 triples in his Canada West career and moving him into third place in conference history, passing Casey Archibald (UBC Thunderbirds, 2002-07) and Danny Balderson (Lethbridge Pronghorns, 1993-95, 1997-2000) who were tied at 239.
Dulay’s ascent up the all-time three-pointers list is likely finished – with one regular-season game to go (Saturday, 7 p.m. at UBC Okanagan, webcast at ufv.canadawest.tv), former teammate Sam Freeman’s UFV record of 254 treys seems safe. Former Regina Cougar Jeff Lukomski holds the conference record of 308.
But the Surrey, B.C. product does have an outside shot (pun intended) of setting a new Canada West single-season record for triples. He’s made a nation-leading 76 this season, and seven more on Saturday would break the conference mark currently co-held by Nathan Dixon (Manitoba Bisons, 2008-09) and Daniel Ferguson (Alberta Golden Bears, 2010-11). Don’t put it past Dulay – he’s knocked down eight in a game on two occasions in 2016-17.
“It’s cool that it worked out that way,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said afterward, reflecting on Dulay’s individual milestone dovetailing with the decisive moment in a playoff-clinching victory. “Manny’s had a really good year, and he’s doing some pretty cool things and that’s great for him. The fact that our team has clinched a playoff spot and made it eight straight years is pretty cool as well.
“The first half, we didn’t play as well as we would have liked. We challenged the guys to step up, and we weren’t going to use any excuse for any potential poor play. The message tonight was that we wanted to earn a playoff spot with a win, rather than maybe getting the playoff spot by somebody else losing.”
Dulay’s game-high 21 points came on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, and he bolstered his Canada West-leading assists total with five more on Friday. With one game to go, he’s ahead of Manitoba’s Ilarion Bonhomme by two assists, 91 to 89.
Andrew Morris (17 points off the bench, 7-of-9 from the field) and Mark Johnson (16 points, 6-of-9 from the field) also had exceedingly efficient evenings for the Cascades. Nav Bains and Vijay Dhillon scored nine points apiece, and Anthony Gilchrist snared 10 rebounds.
The Heat (2-17, 17th in Canada West) saw four players score in double figures, led by Aldrich Berrios (19) and Matt Lafontaine (13).