Vikes return to national stage, face No. 5 McGill Redmen in opening round

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by James Nielsen, with files from CIS

March 4, 2014, Victoria (ISN) – The No. 4-ranked University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team return to the CIS Men’s Basketball Final 8 for the second season in a row and 24th time in team history with the opportunity to win their first CIS banner since the 1996-97 season.

The Vikes will open up their title run against the No. 5 ranked McGill Redmen, March 7 in Ottawa, Ont.

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CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

Prior to last season, the Vikes had been absent from the tournament since 2006, where the they fell to the Carleton Ravens. Last season was a similar story, as the Vikes were ousted in the first round after facing the No. 1-ranked Ravens, putting an early halt to ambitions of a ninth national title. 
 
“We are excited to return to Ottawa this year. We have a solid returning core and we are hoping that our experience last year at the nationals will pay dividends this year,” says head coach Craig Beaucamp, who led the Vikes to their last appearance in the CIS final in 2006, a close-fought 73-67 loss to Carleton in Halifax.
 
McGill returned to the CIS tourney for the first time since 1979 a year ago and didn’t look out of place, winning two of three contests on its way to a fifth-place finish, including an 80-68 consolation final victory over Victoria, its first-round opponent on Friday. Boasting the third best defence in the country (62.3), the Redmen completely neutralized Bishop’s in Sunday’s RSEQ final en route to an easy 73-47 win. Their young lineup features nine freshmen, three of them starters.
 
The Vikes and Redmen will tip off at 2:30 p.m. PST from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ont. The game will be streamed live at http://cis-sic.tv
 
VICTORIA VIKES
2013-14 conference record: 19-3 (1st Pacific)
2014 CW playoffs: 3-2 (CW silver)
CIS ranking: #4

2013 CIS tournament: 1-2 (6th)
Last CW title: 2006
Last CIS title: 1997

Key additions:  G Marucs Tibbs, G Mack Roth, G Patrick Pilato, G Junior Sesay, G Jordan Charles

Key returnees: F Terrell Evans, F Chris McLaughlin, G Kyle Peterson, G Reiner Theil

Key departures: G Michael Acheampong, F Pierce Anderson, G Brandon Dunlop
 
Road to the Final 8
 
The University of Victoria Vikes came one win shy of adding yet another conference title to their collection, finishing with silver after an impressive 19-3 Canada West season.  The Vikes were recognized with several awards following their regular season, including Defensive Player of the Year, won by third-year Vike Reiner Theil and a third-straight Coach of the Year award for head coach Craig Beaucamp. Seniors Terrell Evans (Las Vegas, NV) and Chris McLaughlin (Oakville, ON) were also named First and Second Team All-stars, respectively.
 
Evans was once again an offensive sparkplug for the Vikes in the regular season, finishing with a team-high 17.4 point-per-game average during the regular season and leading his team in scoring in 17 of 27 total games. The fifth-year forward finished second to teammate Reiner Theil (West Vancouver, BC) in floor time throughout the season, averaging just over thirty minutes per game (30.4).
 
Six-foot-ten McLaughlin was once again Evans’ strongest supporter on offence, finishing second on the team in scoring with an average of 15 points-per-game, while leading the Vikes in both field goal percentage (.586) and rebound average (8.5).  Second-year guard Kyle Peterson (Edmonton, AB) emerged as a consistent threat for the Vikes from beyond the arc, finishing with 54 total through 27 games. Third-year transfer Marcus Tibbs (Seattle, WA) was also welcomed to the Vikes fold this season, quarterbacking the offence and finishing first among his squad in assists (96) despite missing seven games due to injury.
 
The Vikes enjoyed a successful November, going on a season-high eight game winning streak that included victories over top-tier teams UFV Cascades as well as the Winnipeg Wesmen. The Vikes closed out their season on a high note, rolling to convincing back-to-back victories over rival UBC Thunderbirds.
 
Victoria was ranked in the CIS Top-10 polls during all 14 weeks of the season, climbing to third place on five occasions before finishing in fourth to close out the season. 
 
Led by Canada West Defensive Player of the Year Theil, the Vikes finished their season with the best scoring defence in the entire CIS, allowing just 60.2 points-per-game.
 
The Vikes secured their second-straight appearance in the Final 8 after a decisive 77-57 victory over the UFV Cascades, Feb. 28 in the Canada West semifinals. The win was a defensive clinic by Victoria, who outrebounded the Cascades 55-34. McLaughlin led the charge for the Vikes, collecting his first of back-to-back double-doubles in the win. The Vikes would fall short in their gold medal game, Mar. 1, capturing silver after a 77-82 loss.
 
Victoria enters this year’s CIS Final 8 looking to win their ninth men’s basketball title. They last finished atop the league in the 1996-97 season.

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