Thunderbirds beat Waterloo in opening game of Hawk Challenge

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Andrew McGuinness

Waterloo, ON – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team rallied from an early first half deficit to defeat the Waterloo Warriors 75-66 Friday night at the Hawk Challenge in Waterloo, Ontario hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University.

Traveling halfway across the country the Thunderbirds had a shaky start, going down by as many as nine points in the opening half. However, led by Tommy Nixon and Conor Morgan, UBC would settle down, claw back, and lead 28-26 at the half.

The Thunderbirds extended its lead in the second half going up 56-50 through three quarters of play. UBC would end up winning by nine, 75-66.

Nixon led UBC with 22 points, while Morgan chipped in with 21 points. 

“It is really important to play road games early in the season,” said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. “It forces you to adjust to a lot of things. We struggled offensively in the first half and didn’t share the ball very well. Our defense was pretty solid and that allowed us to stay in the game. The third quarter we hit some threes in transition and this seemed to help motivate and refocus the guys. It was good to see the guys stay positive when things weren’t going our way.”

With the victory Hanson now is just one win shy of tying Dr. Peter Mullins for the most wins in UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball history. Hanson has 336 career wins as UBC’s bench boss. He is also just three wins shy of 600 wins for his career, UBC and Langara College combined.

Waterloo featured former UBC Thunderbirds player Jas Gill. He played two years for UBC from 2009 to 2011.

The Warriors are coached by Greg Francis, formerly the head coach of the University of Alberta from 2009 to 2012.

UBC will play the host Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks tomorrow at 4:30 pm (PT). The game can be watched live at oua.tv.

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