The UNBC Timberwolves had to work overtime to overcome an outstanding performance by UFV’s Andrew Morris, edging the Cascades 97-93 on Friday evening in Prince George.
Cascades fourth-year wing Morris exploded for a Canada West career-high 35 points on a red-hot shooting night (13-for-19 from the field, 5-for-6 from beyond the arc). But the host T-Wolves scored on nine of their 10 possessions in OT, racking up 18 points in the five-minute extra frame, and UFV was unable to keep up despite Morris’s heroics.
The Cascades (5-12) and T-Wolves (9-10) renew hostilities on Saturday evening (7 p.m., CanadaWest.tv).
“It was most likely our best road game of the year, in terms of competing and battling and the mental side of things,” UFV head coach Adam Friesen said. “It hurts a lot, because we weren’t able to close out the game. We haven’t learned how to get stops when we need them.”
The Cascades got off to a promising start, leading 26-19 at the end of the first quarter behind eight points apiece from Mark Johnson and Parm Bains. The T-Wolves found some traction in the second, and surged ahead 47-45 at the conclusion of a high-scoring opening half.
UNBC reeled off a 7-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to build a 66-59 advantage, but five straight points from Morris followed by a Matt Cooley layup drew the Cascades even at 66-66. The T-Wolves pushed ahead once again, leading 77-72 after Vaggelis Loukas’s layup, but Morris came up big once again, hitting a pair of free throws followed by a triple on the next UFV possession to knot the score 77-77 with 56 seconds left in regulation. UNBC’s James Agyeman hit a tough pull-up jumper to put his team back in front, but Cooley tipped in a rare Morris miss to level the score and set the stage for OT.
The two teams traded buckets in the extra session, with Sukhman Sandhu’s triple giving UFV an 88-87 lead with 2:10 left. But the Cascades couldn’t come up with a big stop when they needed it – Vova Pluzhnikov’s and-one layup put UNBC up 94-90 in the final minute, and the T-Wolves went 3-for-4 from the foul line to seal the deal.
Bains finished with 14 points for the Cascades, Cooley and Sandhu scored 11 apiece, and Johnson had 10. Johnson and Cooley each had eight rebounds to tie for team-high honours, and Canada West blocks leader Sandhu swatted four shots in his return to the lineup after missing four games due to injury.
Pluzhnikov paced the T-Wolves with 26 points, and Agyeman and Jovan Leamy scored 18 apiece. UNBC’s ball security was outstanding – they had just four turnovers, to UFV’s 14.
Friesen termed Morris’s night “phenomenal.”
“He had a standout performance,” he said. “It was a game he wanted to win, and as a veteran leader of the team, he showed up as you’d hope someone of his position would. It was great.”