UBC sweeps Lower Mainland rivals for eighth straight win

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Langley, BC – UBC kept the good times rolling winning a lopsided game over the Trinity Western Spartans by a 102-80 margin on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. After being outscored 27-24 in the first quarter, the T-Birds starting five were instrumental scoring at least 10 points each as UBC extends its win streak to a division-high eight games.
 
Tommy Nixon had another solid performance scoring 27 points on Saturday while Jordan Jensen-Whyte shot 8-for-9 from the field en route to a 20-point performance. The starting five was rounded out by performances from Andrew McGuiness (18), Conor Morgan (12), and former Spartan Tonner Jackson (10). Nixon now leads all Canada West players with 21.2 points per game as well as sitting in third in field goal percentage (60.6)
 
A pair of Spartans eclipsed the 20-point plateau on Saturday as well thanks to Tyus Allen’s 22-point night to go along with a solid 20 points from Denny McDonald. Overall, the Spartans shot just 32.4 per cent from the field, just over half of UBC’s 62.5 per cent shooting percentage.
 
After starting 2015 in ninth place in the Canada West Pioneer Division, the Thunderbirds now sit in fourth in the division, nestled between Victoria and Alberta, with a 9-5 record. Trinity Western remains winless on home court and sees their record fall to 1-13, currently in the midst of a seven-game rut.

“This was an important weekend for us to keep building our confidence,” said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. “Tommy (Nixon) was once again an incredible leader for us and did so much at both ends of the floor. We had to juggle some line ups on the floor due to foul trouble but the boys responded well. Defensively we still have a long way to go.”

The Thunderbirds controlled the better portion of the first quarter but Trinity Western went on a tear to take a late lead, coming out on top 27-24 through the end of the opening quarter.

UBC responded in the second, erasing the deficit and re-taking the lead but Trinity Western stuck around on the scoreboard. And despite the lopsided score last night, Trinity was outscored in just the first quarter as the Spartans improved drastically throughout and carried that play into tonight’s rematch.
 
What killed Trinity in the second was their play in transition, as the fast-paced game resulted in too many missed shots, and poor shot attempts, failing to utilize the entirety of the shot clock. Shooting just 30.8% (12-for-39) through two quarters, the Spartans couldn’t maintain their early lead, whereas UBC shot 65.2 per cent (15-for-23) in the half. 
 
Thanks to outscoring their opponent 23-11 in the second quarter, UBC escaped the first half with a 47-38 lead. Nixon had 16 points in the half for the T-Birds while Justin Bakuteka and McDonald had 12 apiece for the Spartans.
 
UBC’s Jensen-Whyte nabbed two straight layups in the third to extend the lead to 10 points, at 53-43, but the Spartans stormed back to cut the deficit to two converting on several unforced errors by UBC. McGuiness helped his UBC team maintain that six-point lead thanks to a trio of consecutive three-pointers, as the sharp shooter put on a clinic in the third quarter.
 
The T-Birds shooting started to take a toll on host Trinity Western as the home team fell into a 18-point deficit after being as close as two points during the third quarter. With a 78-60 lead with one quarter to play, UBC found themselves in a familiar place as of late, with a lead late in the game on the verge of another victory.  
The fourth quarter saw UBC find their offense once again building an insurmountable, 32-point lead, reaching the century mark for the third time in as many games. Their largest lead came at 3:32 of the fourth quarter and UBC cruised from there.
 
With Saturday’s century mark on their ledger, the T-Birds have reached the triple-digit plateau in four of their past eight games. No other team in the Canada West, including 14-0 Fraser Valley, has more than two 100-point games this season.
 
With six games remaining on the Canada West schedule, the UBC Thunderbirds will host the No. 10-ranked Calgary Dinos, who are sporting an 11-4 record, next weekend at War Memorial Gym. 

“Every weekend is big for us as we try to establish our identity,” said Hanson. “The focus now shifts to a big home weekend against Calgary.” 
 

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