T-Birds drop top-10 matchup


VANCOUVER – The No. 10 University of Victoria Vikes used a big third-quarter surge to beat the No. 7 UBC Thunderbirds 68-58 in Canada West men’s basketball action on Friday at War Memorial Gym in Vancouver.
With the victory, the Vikes improve to 3-0 while the Thunderbirds drop to 0-1.

“It was always going to be an emotional game,” said UBC assistant coach Spencer McKay. “It’s the home opener, it’s a big crowd. There was no difficulty getting the guys excited for this game. I just think we focussed our energy in the wrong direction.”

Guard Jordan Jensen-Whyte and forward Tommy Nixon paced the UBC offence with 13 points apiece, while forward Conor Morgan had 11.

Jensen-Whyte nailed a three-point basket to give UBC a 40-36 advantage with 6:11 left in the third quarter. But on the ensuing possession, Marcus Tibbs replied with a triple of his own for Victoria, the first three points of a 13-2 run that turned the tide in favour of the visitors. Reiner Theil capped off the run with a bucket and two foul shots that made it 52-42 for the Vikes with 2:10 remaining in the third.
Victoria kept the momentum going in the fourth, opening with another Tibbs three-pointer to increase its lead to 14 points at 58-44. The T-Birds chipped away at the gap and got to within seven points with about two minutes to go. Jensen-Whyte scored four straight points to close the deficit to 65-58. He drove hard to the basket and made the layup despite a heavy foul from Theil, and then made the ensuing free throw. Shortly after, he was fouled again, converting one of his two opportunities from the free throw line.

Victoria’s Mack Roth, however, scored about a half minute later before Chris McLaughlin added a final foul shot to restore the double-digit lead before the final whistle.
Thiel, Tibbs, Roth and McLaughlin were the four Vikes who reached double digits on the score sheet.
Thiel led all players with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Tibbs had 15 points. Roth and McLaughlin chipped in with 12 and 11, respectively, and both also grabbed eight rebounds.
The two teams were tied 29-29 at the half, with UBC using a couple of big runs to power its offence.

UBC trailed 21-19 early in the second quarter, but David Wagner‘s layup provided the first two points of a 10-0 run that was capped off by a Brylle Kamen layup. But Victoria got back to even terms, recording the last eight points of the half to level the score. McLaughlin and Roth alternated baskets to give the Vikes momentum, which was extended into the third quarter.

The T-Birds ended the first quarter by scoring the last 10 points in the frame as Nixon (a three-point shot), Jensen-Whyte, Wagner and Tonner Jackson all made buckets. Jackson scored the final point of the quarter on a foul shot. He finished the night as the team leader in rebounds with nine.
Victoria was 24-of-65 shooting (36.9 per cent) from the field tonight while UBC was 22-of-60 (36.7 per cent). The visitors also out-rebounded the Thunderbirds 46-37.
The two teams will face off again at War Memorial Gym at UBC on Saturday night at 7 p.m.

McKay noted that his team would be looking to tighten up its defence for tomorrow’s match-up.

“Defensively we allowed them to move the ball too much, we gave them too many options,” he said.