The Lethbridge Pronghorns caught fire offensively in the second and third quarters, on their way to a 101-75 victory over the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team on Saturday evening.
Playing on the road, the Cascades got off to a terrific start, going 6-for-12 from beyond the arc in the first quarter and building a 28-24 lead at the end of the frame.
But the middle quarters were dominated by the hosts – Lethbridge outscored UFV 27-13 in the second and 28-14 in the third to break the game open.
The Pronghorns (10-2) earned their Canada West-leading 10th win, while the Cascades wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule with a 4-8 record in conference play.
“We really began playing at their pace,” UFV head coach Adam Friesen said, analyzing where things went sideways in the middle stages on Saturday. “They got us playing the way they want the game to be played, and they did a good job capitalizing. They shot the ball fantastic, and when you play a good team like that, it’s tough to come out with a win.”
The Cascades were missing sophomore forward Daniel Adediran, the team’s third-leading scorer, due to injury on Saturday, but they started brightly. Mark Johnson, who has been absolutely on fire from three-point range of late, went 3-of-5 from the land beyond in the first quarter as the visitors surged into the lead.
But the Pronghorns opened the second quarter on a 20-4 run, powered largely by Dejon Burdeaux’s ability to get to the free throw line. Lethbridge’s star guard went 10-for-10 from the line during that stretch – part of a night-long parade to the charity stripe by the Pronghorns which saw them amass an eye-popping 29-4 edge in free throw attempts.
The Cascades were within 51-41 at halftime, but the Pronghorns began the third quarter on a 16-3 run and cruised from there.
A bright spot for UFV was the play of Kenan Hadzovic. The 17-year-old rookie point guard busted out of a shooting slump in a big way, swishing 6-of-9 attempts from downtown en route to a career-high 20 points in 24 minutes off the bench.
“Kenan was terrific,” Friesen said. “He’s been playing well the whole semester, he’s just been learning the league as a young player and getting comfortable. But he plays excellent defence and makes players around him better. For him to find his groove shooting the ball was awesome. The second semester should be really good for him.”
Johnson had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, and Andrew Morris chipped in with 10 points.
Burdeaux got 14 of his team-high 24 points at the free throw line, Saren Westrop had 23 points off the bench, and Kyle Peterson scored 22 for the hosts.
UFV won the rebounding battle 40-33, but turned the ball over 27 times compared to just 13 for Lethbridge.
The Cascades return to action in the new year with a home-and-home set vs. the Trinity Western Spartans. The two programs face off on Thursday, Jan. 4 at the Langley Events Centre, and return to UFV’s Envision Financial Athletic Centre on Friday, Jan. 5.