Edmonton, AB – UBC head coach Kevin Hanson won his 600th career game as the Thunderbirds defeated the Alberta Golden Bears 89-84 Saturday night in the Alberta capital. UBC earns its first victory of the Canada West regular season to improve to 1-3 on the season, while Alberta falls to 4-2.
One night after losing by 25, the Thunderbirds bounced back with a solid performance which featured five players in double figures scoring. UBC broke away late in the third quarter, leading 66-59 with 10 minutes remaining. They would maintain their lead, extending the gap to as much as 11 points with 1:25 remaining. However, the Golden Bears gave the visitors a scare. Alberta rattled off nine straight points, including back to back three pointers from Youssef Ouahrig and Joel Friesen to make it a two point game with 28 seconds remaining.
Tommy Nixon hit two free throws to extend the lead to four and then Friesen hit one of two free throws to make it a thee point game, 87-74. After Kedar Wright missed two free throws with 10 seconds left, it gave the Golden Bears an opportunity to tie. Fortunately for the Thunderbirds, Friesen’s three point attempt took a spin around the cylinder before falling out. Conor Morgan sealed the deal with a pair of free throws to earn the 89-84 victory.
“This was a great bounce back win for our team,” said Hanson. “Friday night’s game was very humbling. We had a long team meeting before practice today and we aired out some concerns. Full credit to the guys for taking themselves to task and responding with a great fight. We need to build on this as we continue our tough schedule against Winnipeg next weekend.”
It was Hanson’s 339th career win at the helm of the Thunderbirds program, coupled with 261 wins as head coach at Langara College, giving him 600 wins for his head coaching career.
UBC trailed 20-15 after the first quarter. The Golden Bears extended the lead to as many as 10 points in the second quarter, before UBC clawed their way back into the game to tie it at 43-43. Madame Gueye hit a three pointer with two seconds left in the half to give the home side a three point lead heading into the break, 46-43.
One of the big reasons for UBC’s success on Saturday night was their ability to protect the ball, managing just six turnovers, compared to 17 turnovers for Alberta. As well, the Thunderbirds were impressive from beyond the arc, hitting 47.8% of their shots.
Friesen led the Golden Bears with 23 points and seven rebounds. Gueye had 21 points and eight rebounds.
The Thunderbirds road trip continues next weekend when they head to Manitoba for a pair of games versus the University of Winnipeg (3-2).