by Cary Mellon
February 16, 2014, KAMLOOPS, BC (ISN) – A strong defensive second half keyed the UBC Okanagan Heat on to 73-60 victory over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in Canada West men’s basketball action in the old Thompson Rivers gymnasium in Kamloops Saturday afternoon.
All four of the Heat’s graduating players were applauded off the court late in the fourth as the Heat closed out the careers of Yassine Ghomari, Ed Dane Medi, Landry Ndayitwayecko, and Mike Zayonc with a satisfying victory.
James Lum, getting his fourth start of the season, led the Heat with 14 points as he orchestrated a patient UBC Okanagan offense. Finishing the season on a strong note and also getting his first career start was David Manshrek, he played a strong 22 minutes finishing with 12 points and a team high nine rebounds. Both David and James connected on a pair of threes in the contest.
Cameron Friesen found the old Thompson Rivers Gymnasium to his liking as he had the hot hand from outside, shooting 75% from long range (3-4), Cam, like Manshreck finished with 12 points. A long range threat his entire career for the Heat, Landry Ndayitwayeko, did not disappoint in his final game, scoring 10 points and connected on 2-4 from deep.
Another graduate, Yassine Ghomari struggled shooting (3-15) in his final game, but the consummate competitor will trade personal stats for a win every day, he still scored eight and held Canada West’s second leading scorer Ta’Quan Zimmerman to just 11 points.
The longest standing member of the Heat, Ed Dane Medi played in his 88th game for UBC Okanagan as he finishes his career, the most regular season games played in school history for men’s basketball.
Mike Zayonc, the final departing player, once again played 21 unheralded undersized minutes in the post for his final game as he finishes with five points, five rebounds, four fouls and numerous bruises from all the pounding he took keeping the WolfPack bigs out of sync as he battled 6-10 230-lb Josh Wolfram, 6-5 215-lb Gerard Gore, and 6-8 220-lb Tallon Milne.
The defense was the key to the victory as UBC Okanagan held Thompson Rivers to just 60 points, which is just over 20 off of their season average of 80.2 a game, and was the lowest total that the high flying WolfPack put up all season.
The only two TRU players in double figures were Tallon Milne who had the most points with 14, and was named the Pack player of the game, Ta’Quan Zimmerman had 11 points, while Gerard Gore had 11 rebounds to lead both teams.
Thompson Rivers finished the season with a 13-9 record, good enough for the third seed in the Pacific Division and well move on to play the No. 2 seed from the Prairie Division the Saskatchewan Huskies in Saskatoon beginning Friday (Feb 21) in a best of three.
For the second straight season UBC Okanagan head coach Pete Guarasci has his team compete hard right to the final game even though playoffs were not an option, and for the second straight year the Heat were able to win on the final day, both years besting TRU.
With the win the team’s final record stands at 4-18, and although four players and a lot of minutes are leaving the program performances today by the like of Lum, Manshrek and Ryan Linttell will have coach Guarasci seeing good things on the horizon.
Prior to the game the Men’s and Women’s Presidents’ Cup was awarded for the first time in over a decade in a ceremony in which each universities President handed the other the Cup as TRU won the men’s Cup and UBC Okanagan captured the women’s. Read about the award here.
HEAT NOTES: Second year guard Mitch Godwin missed the TRU series with a leg injury. The men’s basketball team won in their final game in 2011-12, their first in Canada West over the WolfPack but that was under then head coach Darren Semeniuk, who is now an assistant with the women’s Heat team.