VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds defeated the Brandon Bobcats 97-82 on Friday evening at War Memorial Gymnasium, securing their fifth consecutive Canada West men’s basketball victory.
“We needed it,” said second-year forward Conor Morgan of the win. “The first half of the season really took its toll on us. Now we need to keep stringing wins together.”
Morgan and fourth-year forward David Wagner led the Thunderbirds with 16 points apiece, while Brandon’s Kenonte Ramsey scored 21 points to lead all players.
DJ Jordan, a third-year guard from Wichita Falls, Texas, recorded 19 points for the visiting Bobcats in a losing cause.
“I felt we only played three and a half quarters,” said Jordan. “We stopped playing team basketball.”
Brandon looked strong coming out of the locker room for both the first and third quarters. Beginning the game on a 9-0 run and building momentum to start the second half with an 11-0 surge, the Bobcats did not look like the 1-12 team that their record now indicates.
“Every game we have to keep playing hard,” said Jordan of Brandon’s attitude moving forward. “We got to steal one.”
After trailing 9-0 to start the game, and ultimately facing an 11-point first quarter deficit, the Thunderbirds outscored Brandon 30-19 in the second quarter to lead 57-47 at halftime.
“Brandon’s the type of team that’s going to come out and they’re going to shoot,” said Morgan, who also tallied three blocks on the evening. “I think we could have done a better job guarding the perimeter tonight; we need to challenge every shot.”
Ramsey, Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak and Ryan Hawley all hit three-point baskets for the Bobcats as part of the 11-0 third-quarter run that put the visitors ahead 58-57. In total, Brandon attempted 23 three-point field goals on Friday night, making 11 of them.
The home side re-took the lead for good on a Morgan dunk about 45 seconds after Hawley’s triple but the Thunderbirds didn’t take full control until the fourth quarter. Another Ramsey three cut UBC’s lead to just 77-71 about a minute into the final quarter but couldn’t get any closer.
UBC’s big men worked well together throughout the game. Wagner and fellow posts Tonner Jackson and Brylle Kamen combined for 39 total points on 16-of-21 shooting.
“Our big guys did the job tonight,” said fifth-year forward Tommy Nixon. “We have a mismatch inside, so we tried to exploit that.”
UBC’s 52 points in the paint and 50 rebounds were comparatively more than Brandon’s 32 and 25, respectively.
Nixon tallied 13 points on the stat sheet, but his presence was felt in all aspects of the game. He led the Thunderbirds with five assists, brought down six rebounds, and drew several offensive fouls to limit the Bobcat’s offensive aggression.
“There were some positives tonight, but it was too up and down,” said Nixon of the team’s performance. “Brandon is a very offensive team. We have to refocus defensively for tomorrow.”
With the victory the Thunderbirds improve to 6-5, riding their five-game winning streak to sit tied for fifth place in Canada West standings. Brandon, now losers of five consecutive, sit last in the conference at 1-12.
The two teams will face off again on Saturday evening at UBC’s War Memorial Gymnasium, commencing at 7 p.m. PT.