By Andy Watson, Vikes Communications
Saskatoon (ISN) – The Saskatchewan Huskies rode the efforts of fifth-year seniors Duncan Jones and Michael Lieffers to defeat the University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team 90-85 in the Canada West Final 4 third-place game on Saturday in Saskatoon.
With the win, Saskatchewan holds onto hope for an at-large wild-card berth that will be determined by a committee on Sunday afternoon. The loss likely ends UVic’s season as No. 2 Lakehead and No. 3 Saskatchewan are both up for consideration on the at-large wild-card berth, and likely also concludes the outstanding university careers of guards Ryan MacKinnon of Comox, B.C., and Zac Andrus of Vashon Island, Wa., and forward Michael Berg of Burnaby, B.C..
Jones a fifth-year senior and Calgary native Jones, on nine-of-10 three-point shooting and 13-of-17 shooting from the floor, led Saskatchewan with a career- and game-high 40 points, while Huskies teammate and fellow fifth-year senior Lieffers of Saskatoon had a double-double with 18 points and 16 rebounds. MacKinnon had a team-high 24 points for the Vikes along with three rebounds, two blocks, two steals and five assists. Michael Acheampong of Toronto and Terrell Evans of Las Vegas, Nv., also registered double-digit scoring for UVic with 15 and 12 points respectively. Andrus finished with eight points, six rebounds and four assists and Berg with four points and five rebounds in their final Vikes games.
For the second straight tonight, the Vikes dug an early hole, trailing 8-0 less than two minutes into the game, but quickly responded with a pair of three-pointers and jump shot to tie it at 8-8. Evans gave the Vikes the 10-8 lead, all in the opening 2:30 of the game. MacKinnon scored eight of UVic’s first 12 points going three-for-three from the floor.
The Vikes led by as much as six points in opening quarter before the Huskies went on a 12-0 run connecting on a series of UVic turnovers. Saskatchewan led 26-22 after the opening 10 minutes.
Leading 30-24 early in the second, led by 10-point efforts from Lieffers and Jones, the host Huskies scored in bunches and would have been ahead by a lot more had it not been for strong outside shooting from the Vikes.
MacKinnon hit back-to-back threes to give the VIkes third first lead of the game at 37-36 and then 40-37 with just over four minutes remaining in the half.
Saskatchewan, however, came back to lead 46-42 at the half after some strong play in their defensive half. Huskies Lieffers and Jones and UVic’s MacKinnon all had 16 points in the first half. Huskies star Jamelle Barrett of Rancho Cordova, Ca., was held scoreless for the opening 16 minutes with his only first-half point coming from the foul line, and he finished with just eight points.
In the third quarter, the Huskies stretched the lead to 67-58, but the Vikes fought back in the fourth, pulling within one point on a trey from rookie Reiner Theil of West Vancouver, B.C., with four minutes remaining, trailing 72-71. Theil finished with seven points before fouling out.
A string of Huskies turnovers late allowed the Vikes to stay in the game, trailing 86-84, but Jones capitalized on a MacKinnon turnover and rebuilt an 88-84 lead with 35 seconds left. They held on to win 90-85, but UVic won the fourth quarter battle 29-23.