Defense not enough to earn win over Winnipeg

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okanagan heat

December 3, 2012, WINNIPEG, MB – The UBC Okanagan men’s basketball team played a strong defensive game, holding the normally high-scoring Winnipeg Wesmen to just 58 points, 22 below their season average, but the Heat still fell to the home team 58-51 Sunday afternoon in Canada West men’s basketball league play.

The Heat were led by rookie guard Mitch Goodwin’s 14 points and seven rebounds. Fellow rookie guard Greet Gill (Osoyoos, BC) added 12, and third year guard Anwar Faza (Ottawa, ON) finished with 11.

Steven Wesley led Winnipeg with a game high 20 points and eight rebounds. Samuel Hattin added nine points, draining three-three pointers. Andrew Cunningham dished out 12 assists in the win.

In a tight defensive first quarter where points were hard to come by, the Heat were outscored by the Wesmen 16-11. The teams struggled in the second quarter with the Wesmen holding a 10-9 advantage in the quarter to take a 26-21 lead into the halftime break. Neither team was shooting well from the field, the Heat shooting 28% in the first half compared to the Wesmen’s 37%.

“Although we didn’t shoot the ball well, we started doing some nice things offensively in the 2nd half,” commented Heat head coach Pete Guarasci. “The guys played very hard right until the end and managed to outrebound our opponents [43-34].”

The Heat made a charge late in the fourth quarter, cutting the Wesmen lead to 49-43 with under five minutes to play, but the Wesmen held off the charge thanks in part to some key baskets by Steven Wesley and Benny Iko to make the final tally 58-51.

“We definitely battled tonight, and we made improvements from last night for sure,” noted second year forward Julian Asselstine (Coquitlam, BC). “There are always areas for improvement that we just have to keep working towards. Our mental focus needs work but it’s definitely a process.”

With the victory Winnipeg improves to 7-3 while the UBC Okanagan Heat fall to 1-9 in league play.

The Heat will next see action on January 5th against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack after the Christmas break. Winnipeg will take on the Manitoba Bisons on Wednesday night in the 22nd Annual Duckworth Challenge.

Looking forward to the match ups ahead, Guarasci said, “I’m impressed with this group’s ability to handle adversity and stick together. We are focused on the process of getting better and I believe we are improving. With many of our players experiencing Canada West basketball for the first time we’ll use the break to recharge and re-evaluate how we will need to perform so we can stay competitive in the 2nd half of the season.”

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