Winnipeg, MB – Jelane Pryce put up 32 points for the Winnipeg Wesmen which was more than enough in defeating the UBC Thunderbirds 77-67 on Saturday night in Canada West men’s basketball. A night after winning by nine, the Wesmen completed the sweep and finish the 2014 portion of their season with a 5-3 record prior to the Christmas break.
The Thunderbirds fall to 1-5 and for the first time since the 2000-2001 season, the T-Birds sit at four games below 0.500. It was also the first time the Winnipeg Wesmen have swept a two-game back-to-back series against the Thunderbirds.
Christopher Baxter also had a stellar game for the Wesmen, filling in for the injured Jordan Clennon who sat out tonight’s game after sustaining an injury late in Friday night’s game. Baxter finished with 25 points; eight assists, playing a team-high 38 minutes. Ryan Oirbans was a beast on the boards, collecting three offensive rebounds, and 13 defensive rebounds, for 16 total on the night.
After the Thunderbirds took a 59-58 lead in the fourth quarter the wheels came off so to speak, as the Wesmen would go on a 14-3 scoring run. Winnipeg eventually established a 12-point lead late in the fourth and prevented the game from getting any closer. Kedar Wright would drain the final shot of the game for the Thunderbirds, but too little, too late, as the Wesmen held on for a comfortable 77-67 victory.
“This has been a very tough stretch for us a team,” said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. “It feels like we have been on the road a long time and today we played like we have been on the road long time. We are looking forward to getting home and playing in front of our fans again.”
Including last night’s turnover statistics, the Thunderbirds committed 36 giveaways over the two-game weekend series, as the Wesmen scored 26 points off turnovers in tonight’s rubber match.
Brylle Kamen had a strong game for the Thunderbirds, collecting the game’s only double double with a team high in points and rebounds, with 21 and 11 on the night, respectively. Tommy Nixon, who returned to forward after spending most of Friday evening serving as a point guard, finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
After a slow start, both teams traded a pair of baskets to end the first quarter, with Winnipeg holding a slight 14-13 edge. Each team used the most of their shot clock in the early going, as the tempo was much more controlled and laid back versus the opening quarter on Friday night. The 13 points put up by the T-Birds were the second lowest scoring total in a quarter this season, contributing to a dismal 38.7 per cent (24-for-62) shooting percentage by game’s end.
UBC kept it close through to half time, as the Winnipeg Wesmen maintained its one point advantage, leading the low-scoring half 29-28. Kamen and Pryce both had 11 points to lead their respective teams in scoring through the first half of play. The Thunderbirds took a brief 30-29 lead to start the third, their first lead since the first quarter, but Winnipeg would go on a 11-4 run after Baxter nailed a pair of trays helping the home team regain the lead.
Down eight with 3:38 to play in the third, UBC went on a 14-6 run, including a Jordan Jensen-Whyte floater and one, to complete the three-point play, helping cut the lead to two, at 56-54.
Though the Thunderbirds would erase that deficit and gain a one-point edge at 59-58, turnovers continued to be the storyline, as the team committed 18 on the night, an identical figure to Friday’s game.
When needed most, the Thunderbirds managed to put up just 13 points in the final quarter, a feat matched in the first quarter, while Winnipeg put up 21 to seal the Thunderbirds fate, grabbing all four points in the two-game weekend series.
Winnipeg would finish the game shooting 51.9 per cent (28-for-54) from the field while UBC drained just a single three-pointer (1-for-12, 8.3 per cent) the entire game.
The Thunderbirds will complete the 2014 portion of their season at home next weekend in a two-game series against the Saskatchewan Huskies, who handed the No. 7 ranked Victoria Vikes its first loss of the season on Friday.