By Lee Dorner (Sports Information Assistant)
November 4, 2013, VANCOUVER (ISN) – The UBC Thunderbirds and Trinity Western Spartans are both 1-1 after week one upsets, setting the stage for an important early-season rivalry series this weekend at War Memorial gymnasium.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. on Friday and at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Both games will be streamed with live statistics at CanadaWest.tv, while Friday’s matchup will also be broadcast live on CiTR-FM 101.9.
Both teams are looking to establish some consistency after up-and-down opening weekends. The T-Birds, ranked eighth in the CIS and third in the Canada West preseason poll, started with a 78-72 loss in Regina against the Cougars, who were ranked 15th out of 16 Canada West teams in the preseason. The Spartans beat a solid Calgary Dinos team before losing at home to Lethbridge, who were ranked 12th in the conference.
Turnovers and poor shooting sunk the ‘Birds against the Cougars, as they hit less than 34 percent of their field goals and coughed the ball up 25 times for a -10 margin. But it wasn’t all bad news in Regina, as they nearly rebounded their way to victory despite those rough offensive numbers, thanks in large part to some of the newest additions to the roster.
UBC outrebounded Regina 52-31, with third-year Douglas College transfer Harpreet Randhawa recording a game-high 11 boards in his first regular season game with the team. And Tonner Jackson, a fourth-year transfer whose former team is the same Spartans squad the ‘Birds will battle this weekend, added eight rebounds.
The rebounding advantage proved critically important for UBC the next night against Brandon, when a fourth quarter comeback by the Bobcats shredded an 18-point Thunderbirds lead all the way down to two points for a 76-74 final. The T-Birds were also +1 in the turnover battle, but still shot well below their 2012-13 season average from the floor, so the battle on the glass will continue to be vital for UBC while the offence tries to heat up.
Jackson added another five offensive rebounds and had 11 points against the Bobcats, so he should be a key factor against his former team this weekend as he and David Wagner match up in the low post against the likes of Denny McDonald and Jesse Jeffers for the Spartans.
Trinity Western also won the rebounding battle in both games last week, but the real bright spot for them to take away has to be the play of Anthony Ottley, an athletic fourth-year winger from Durham College, who led the team with 35 points on 50 percent shooting in his first week of regular season action with the Spartans.
Starting fourth-year point guard Robert Rodriguez is also a new transfer this year from Sacramento, Kelvin Smith is a third-year transfer from Los Angeles who played 32 minutes off the bench in week one, and Jeffers is a third-year transfer from Langara College, so the Spartans bring a lot of new faces in important roles to this division rivalry in 2013.
Tickets to the game, as well as season’s passes, are available at: http://www.gothunderbirds.ca/tickets