Agent Zero proves to be Hero in Heat’s win over Timberwolves

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November 30, 2013, KELOWNA, BC (ISN) – The Heat men’s basketball squad secured their second win of the season Saturday night at home, again by downing the visiting UNBC Timberwolves but this time in an 81-73 decision, as the team from Prince George is swept out of Kelowna heading into the winter break.

Second-year big man Stuart Wallensteen (Nanaimo, BC) was the difference maker for the Heat, as he went for a team-high 19 points on 9-13 shooting and gobbling seven rebounds. He was the Landmark Cinemas Player of the Game for his efforts.

“He gave us an inside presence,” said Heat head coach Pete Guarasci following the win. “And I thought he was playing the team game, he was looking to attack when it was one-on-one coverage, and he was looking to make the kick when there was a double team or if he saw open people on the perimeter.”

Indeed, Wallensteen’s efforts in 27 minutes of time as a starter created a lot of floor space for the Heat offense to operate, further contributing to their excellent 48.4% shooting, up from their 37% season average. Also, early foul trouble by the Timberwolves’ four-year man out of Cameroon Olivier Kouagnia gave the Heat a rare size advantage, which they used liberally through Wallensteen primarily.

“It was really nice for [Wallensteen] to step up, and to be able to play through him for a while,” Guarasci continued. “I think it changed the type of game it became, because [then] they started to play zone.”

The Heat held a lead for most of the game, outscoring their opponent every quarter except for a 22-22 tie in the second quarter. Once again the Heat showed what they could do when they combine their staunch defense with a hot hand, as they went 48.4% from the field, up from their 37% season average.

Behind Wallensteen, second-year guard Mitch Goodwin, who got to play hero in their previous matchup versus the Timberwolves, came out with a double-double 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Heat in boards. The Heat outrebounded the Timberwolves again, this time in a convincing 43-30 margin.

Leading the way for the Timberwolves was fifth-year offensive stalwart Charles Barton, who put up 20 points and eight rebounds, shooting 50% from the floor including 4-7 from the arc. Kouagnia was 4-9 for 10 points and five rebounds in only 21 minutes of play due to the foul trouble.

Though Wallensteen provided the yeoman’s share of energy and elbow grease in the Heat victory, the humble forward was quick to put light on the team effort: “It was nice that I helped contribute to the win, but overall we just need the win so desperately right now, so regardless I’m just grateful that we won.”

Though it is only the Heat’s second win this season, Wallensteen was quick to express his opinion that records are “kind of irrelevant in our league [at this time].” He went on to add, “You look at all our games, we played the top ranked teams in the country and we lost by a few, [and] we played teams that weren’t as good, but they were all close games. If we play our best, I think we’ll be fine against anybody, so we can’t look at records. Just play our game, and I think we’ll be alright.”

The Heat now improve to 2-8 heading into the semester break, and will travel down to Santa Barbara, California for an exhibition tournament in the New Year before classes begin. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, fall to 3-7. The Heat are back in Canada West action on January 10th as they travel to Regina for a game and then onto Brandon for the swing trip.

HEAT NOTES: The Heat have doubled their win total heading into the break from last season, where they were 1-9. They would finish up with five wins for the season … The Heat have also set a new season-high with their 79 points, besting last night’s record of 75.

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