By Andy Watson, Vikes Communications
VANCOUVER – The No. 7 nationally ranked UBC Thunderbirds Men’s basketball team kept their undefeated streak in tact at the War Memorial Gymnasium on Friday night, defeating the No. 4 nationally ranked UVic Vikes 68-52 with a great blend of pressure and strong defence.
Fifth-year star guard Nathan Yu of Prince George, B.C., led UBC with 22 points in a dominating second half in his final regular season home game. With just three first-half points, Yu scored 18 in the second half.
With the loss, UVic falls to 13-4 and puts its chances of winning the conference title in jeopardy. UBC improves to 13-4, setting up a battle for first place in the Pacific Division on Friday Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. at McKinnon Gymnasium in Victoria.
UBC has now won 11 straight against the Vikes in men’s basketball play.
Ryan MacKinnon of Comox, B.C., led the Vikes with 13 points and eight rebounds. Zac Andrus of Vashon Island, Wash., added 10. The Vikes committed 25 turnovers, allowing UBC to outscore them 23-13 on points off turnovers. Despite enjoying a 46-36 rebounding edge, the Thunderbirds outscored UVic 13-8 on second-chance points.
UBC opened up a 12-6 led seven minutes into a low-scoring opening quarter, as the Vikes shot just two-for-13 to start the game. The Thunderbirds were red-hot, shooting 7-for-12 from the floor, en route to an early 11-0 run. They led 19-12 after the opening quarter.
UVic closed the first quarter and started the second on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 19-16, but UBC went on another run, this one 7-0, after two consecutive fouls on forward Chris McLaughlin. Strong play in the paint from Thunderbirds fifth-year guard Kamar Burke of Mississauga, Ont., extending the UBC lead to 28-18. But the Vikes stayed close, outscoring UBC 12-11 in the second quarter, trailing 30-24 at the half.
Despite getting into the bonus with 4:31 left int he opening half, UVic was cold from the free-throw line.
In the third after a pair of misses at the charity stripe, Yu started to take over. He drained a three-pointer and helped in transition, allowing UBC to blow open a 49-33 lead. The Thunderbirds led 57-37 after three quarters.
UVic played mostly bench players in the fourth looking for some new inspiration but only had two players in double-digit scoring. Reiner Thiel did not dress.
Burke finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds in a strong night for UBC.