Heat win home opener in exciting fashion over Cougars

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ubc heat

Cary Mellon

KELOWNA, B.C. – The UBC Okanagan Heat defeated the University of Regina Cougars, 78-76, at the UBC Okanagan gymnasium, winning their first ever CIS game in an exciting and hotly contested game in front of a boisterous home crowd. The Cougars, coming in from two wins last weekend, fall to 2-4 in conference play and the Heat now sit at 1-4.

“We haven’t had fans like that for a long time and they’re into the game,” commented Heat head coach Darren Semeniuk. “They’re excited and they rushed the floor at the end! You can tell that the guys who logged a lot of minutes just got that boost at the end from the fans. It was great.”

The Heat jumped to an early lead in the first quarter after a shut out from the University of Fraser Valley Cascades last weekend. At the end of the first quarter, the Heat led by five points, 24-19. The Cougars took the lead late in the second quarter closing the half leading by four points, 34-39.

The teams kept a close game all through the second half closing the third quarter with just a five point difference, 53-58, for the Cougars. In an overwhelmingly exciting fourth quarter, the two teams battled for the win until the very last seconds of the game with the Heat coming out on top and winning their first regular season conference game.

Fifth-year Simon Pelland (N. Vancouver, BC) and third-year Yassine Ghomari (Vancouver, BC) led their team to a home court victory each with 16 points. Freshmen Julian Asselstine (Coquitlam, BC) and Bret MacDonald (Port Coquitlam, BC) added to the lead with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

The Cougars were led by fourth-year Paul Gareau (Regina, SK) and third-year Connor Burns (Regina, SK) each with the game high performance of 18 points. Second-year Brendan Hebert (Regina, SK) helped add another 11 points to the score.

“It’s really hard playing a weekend where you are hitting two teams and even harder when the two teams are so different,” said Semeniuk. “These guys were big and long and fundamental. Tomorrow it’s going to be up and down so we’re going to have to prepare for Brandon’s pace.”

The Heat will try to keep their winning streak going as they play host the Brandon Bobcats in their last game before the winter semester break. Tipoff time is 8 p.m. and the game will be held in the gymnasium on UBC’s Okanagan campus. The University of Regina Cougars will meet with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack tomorrow night in the Tournaments Capital Centre at 7 p.m.

HEAT NOTES: UBC Okanagan’s bench kept them in the game in the first half outscoring the Cougars bench 23-10 and outscoring the Heat’s starters 23-22. For the game UBC Okanagan’s bench scored 33 points compared to Regina’s 25…The smaller Heat team managed to keep the Cougars off of the glass, only losing the rebounding battle by 3, 38-35…UBC Okanagan hit on 8-19 from the three with six different players knocking down at least one three. The Heat trailed by six points (67-73) with 3:18 left to play and had a one point lead (74-73) after a 7-0 run punctuated with a three by Bret Macdonald to give the Heat the lead in just one minute. (2:13 left to play)…The Cougars grabbed the lead one last time when Macdonald again hit a shot, this time a nothing but net two at the end of the shot clock to give the Heat the lead for good with 29 seconds left to play. Macdonald score 7 of his 10 points on the night in the final three minutes of the game.

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