By Shannon Pitt
January 11, 2014, VANCOUVER (ISN) – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team battled through a gruelling game to overcome the No. 7 Saskatchewan Huskies 93-88 on Saturday night at Vancouver’s War Memorial Gymnasium.
The Thunderbirds controlled the vast majority of the game, only allowing the Huskies a fleeting glimpse of a lead during the end of the third quarter.
In their second home game of 2014, the ‘Birds saw five players contribute double digits to the scoreboard. Tonner Jackson, of White Rock, B.C., led UBC with a game-high 23 points, while Paris native Brylle Kamen was not far behind with 20. Kamen, who underwent and recovered from elbow surgery over the winter break, tallied a commanding 45 points over the course of the weekend.
Tommy Nixon (Vancouver), David Wagner (Kamloops, B.C.), and Andrew McGuinness (North Vancouver, B.C.) also made major offensive contributions with 18, 12, and 11 points, respectively.
Dadrian Collins and Stephon Lamar contributed 22 and 20 points for Saskatchewan. Trevor Severinski led the Huskies in rebounding with eight.
The ‘Birds came out gunning in the first half, utilizing a four-out offence to breakthrough the Huskies’ energized defence. UBC shot a strong 65 per cent from the field during the first quarter, giving them a momentum that carried through the second. Over the course of the evening, UBC would shoot 54 per cent from the field, almost 10 points higher than their season average to date.
Saskatchewan overcame an eight-point deficit in the third quarter to head into the fourth with a 61-60 lead, largely thanks to an 11-2 run, capped off by a Collins three-pointer, over a 2:12 span late in the period.
However, the Thunderbirds play was a testament to the team’s resiliency as they rallied through the fourth quarter. The Huskies suffered as both Matt Forbes and Ben Baker fouled-out of the game with eight minutes remaining; UBC capitalized on the opportunity and pulled ahead with no intention of relinquishing the lead.
With the loss, Saskatchewan falls to 9-3, while UBC improves to 5-7.
The Thunderbirds played tonight’s game in honour of former head coach, Bruce Enns, who led UBC from 1985-2000. Enns helped the ‘Birds win four Canada West men’s basketball titles, and in 1987, he was named Sport BC Coach of the Year. After the game, UBC head coach Kevin Hanson, a former player under coach Enns, noted that while “any win is a good win for us right now, but honouring Bruce Enns tonight with a victory is a special moment for me and him.”
Despite suffering a tough loss Friday night against Alberta, the Thunderbirds returned determined to put up a noteworthy fight against Saskatchewan. In regard to the team’s overall performance, coach Hanson felt pleased: “I said last night that we needed to come out with a bit more passion and fire and I think our guys really did. I thought we competed hard, we got the ball inside to our post players better, and I thought our post players played really solid tonight.”
Next weekend, both teams travel to Calgary for Friday and Saturday games. While the ‘Birds (5-7) will take on the Mount Royal University Cougars, Saskatchewan (9-3) will face off against the University of Calgary Dinos.