The University of the Fraser Valley men’s hoopsters put themselves in position to earn a tough road win on Friday, but the Regina Cougars found some defensive traction and clutch shot-making in the late going to pull out a 74-64 win on Friday.
The Cascades battled back from a double-digit deficit to draw even with the Cougars at the end of the third quarter, 51-51. But the hosts didn’t allow the UFV squad a single field goal over the final five minutes of regulation, and Benjamin Hillis drilled back-to-back three-point daggers with under two minutes to go to seal the win for Regina.
The Cougars (2-1) will host the Cascades (1-4) again on Saturday (tip-off at 8 p.m. Central / 6 p.m. Pacific, webcast at CanadaWest.tv).
“Really happy with our compete level tonight,” UFV head coach Adam Friesen said. “We will have to learn how to finish games better, but to have this experience will make us better.”
The Cascades trailed 36-26 at halftime, but used a 12-0 run in the third quarter to erase the Regina lead and draw level at 47-47 late in the period. Highlighting that scoring spurt were eight straight points in under a minute by rookie point guard Vick Toor, including a pair of three-pointers. In the dying seconds of the third, Toor found fellow freshman Sagar Dulay open in the corner, and his triple beat the buzzer to square things up 51-51 heading to the final frame.
The Cascades were within two (63-61) after a four-point play by UFV’s Sukhman Sandhu at the midway point of the fourth, but that was the last shot they made from the field – the rest of their points came courtesy of Toor from the free throw line. The Cougars had only two field goals themselves in the last half of the fourth quarter, but both were triples from Hillis. The Cougars also got to the line four times in that span, and Samuel Hillis and Alex Igual both hit a pair of clutch free throws to build up the lead.
“I thought it was a strange game tonight with neither team really establishing any flow whatsoever,” Cougars head coach Steve Burrows said. “These are difficult games to play in and you have to give them credit for sure – they were game and made plays when it mattered, especially in the third. We were fortunate to have Ben (Hillis) hit a couple big shots for us late or else this one could very well have gone the other way.”
Toor had an outstanding outing for the Cascades, racking up a team-high 16 points to go with seven assists, six rebounds, five steals and a block. He was the lone UFV player in double figures – Sandhu and Matt Cooley chipped in with nine points apiece, and Daniel Adediran and Riley Braich each notched eight points.
Shawn Lathan had his second double-double in as many games for the Cougars, leading Regina in both points (19) and rebounds (11). Hillis finished with 15 points, while Shaquille Harris had 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
– with files from Regina Cougars sports information