Bears’ golden performance spoils Vikes home opener

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VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team had their home opener spoiled as the visiting Alberta Golden Bears upset the home team 80-65 at McKinnon Gym on Oct. 3 in game 2 of the Guy Vetrie Memorial tournament. The Vikes have eight new faces from last year’s team that lost to Alberta in the CIS bronze-medal game.

Alberta’s Mamadou Gueye and Kenneth Otieno silenced the Victoria home crowd after earning 20 and 18 points, respectively. Senior Joel Friesen chipped in with 10 points, while the Golden Bears earned 12 points off turnovers, 22 in the paint and shot 9-for-18 from three-point land. Alberta put up 25 defensive rebounds despite conceding 17 turnovers.

The Vikes struggled from the get-go, scoring only 11 points in two of their four quarters. Fourth-year transfer Jeremy Leonard-Smith led all Victoria scorers with nine points, while rookie Kai Greene had eight in his first home game. Leonard-Smith also led the Vikes in rebounds with six, while Chris McLaughlin totaled five.

Last year’s CIS bronze medalists got off to a hot start going on a 12-0 roll thanks to some big buckets from six-foot-seven Gueye. It was a quick quarter as the Vikes took six minutes to get on the board but when they did it was in style. Back-to-back threes from each of Leonard-Smith and rookie Justin Kinnear got the monkey off the back but Victoria struggled to keep up with Alberta’s three-point percentage of 60.

Alberta fifth year Otieno was three-for-three from distance in the opening half, to have 11 points alongside teammate Gueye. The Vikes on the other hand struggled shooting 31 per cent from the field. Fifth-year veteran McLaughlin was critical under the boards but in his time off the court the Golden Bears capitalized on Vikes turnovers. Alberta earned a 39-30 lead at half.

In the third quarter, Otieno continued to shine, showing his versatility with a field goal, a pocket of perfect free throws and a three-pointer to lift Alberta 52-36 over the home team. Entering the quarter down nine and finishing 21 points back, 62-41, Victoria struggled in all areas of the court. Alberta was 60 per cent from the field and 8-for-14 from distance with Otieno and Gueye piggy backing the team with 18 and 13 points, respectively, at this point.

The opening 12-0 run for the Golden Bears was the start of the end as despite out-scoring the visitors 24-18 in the final frame, the Vikes fell 80-65 in the end. Pre-season experience seemed to be the focus once the story seemed to be written as Beaucamp’s squad ended with 45 of their points coming from the bench.

Up next the Vikes will host the four-time defending CIS national champions, the Carleton Ravens, at 8 p.m., while the Bishop’s Gaiters will play Alberta at 4 p.m. tomorrow, Oct. 4. Both games will be at McKinnon Gym in Victoria, B.C.

ALB: 20-19-23-18 : 80
UVIC: 11-19-11-24 : 65

ALB: Mamadou Gueye (20), Kenneth Otieno (18), Joel Friesen (10)
UVIC: Jeremy Leonard-Smith (9), Kai Greene (8)

Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament (at McKinnon Gym – Victoria, B.C.)
Friday, Oct. 3: Carleton Ravens 83, Bishop’s Gaiters 61
Friday, Oct. 3: Victoria Vikes 65, Alberta Golden Bears 80
Saturday, Oct. 4: Bishop’s Gaiters vs. Alberta Golden Bears (4:00 p.m.)
Saturday, Oct. 4: Victoria Vikes vs. Carleton Ravens (8:00 p.m.)
Sunday, Oct. 5: Carleton Ravens vs. Alberta Golden Bears (12:00 p.m.)
Sunday, Oct. 5: Victoria Vikes vs. Bishop’s Gaiters (2:00 p.m.)