By Vikes Communications
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team completed the weekend sweep of the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Jan. 31, at McKinnon Gym but it wasn’t easy. Fourth-quarter efforts saw the Vikes end up at the top of the roller coaster ride with a 66-62 win. The Vikes improve their playoff picture now with a 12-4 record, while the Pronghorns fall to 6-10.
It was a two-man show on the home floors tonight as fifth-year forward Chris McLaughlin and fourth-year point guard Marcus Tibbs combined for 52 of the team’s 66 points. McLaughlin had his eighth double-double of the season a game-high 27 points and 13 rebounds. Tibbs had a point-packed fourth quarter to end with 25 points and three steals.
“Chris held us in all night and Marcus got into foul trouble early but I actually think that helped him,” described Vikes men’s basketball head coach Craig Beaucamp. “The break gave (Tibbs) a chance to rest and clear his mind since he played a lot of minutes early on. He then came out with a lot of energy and hit some big shots for us.”
The Pronghorns put on an outstanding offensive display thanks to the leadership of fourth-year Brent Watkins who finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Forward Brandon Brine had the team’s lone double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and guard Rob Olsen chipped in with 11 points and five rebounds. Jared Baker was also impressive despite being held to four points, the forward had three steals and logged 32 minutes.
Lethbridge had a strong first quarter with six-foot-ten Watkins using his size to dominate the boards and get the Horns up early. Where five-foot-eight Lynden Nummi lacked in stature he made up for in speed as he set his teammates up offensively to give the Horns a deserving 15-9 lead at the end of the first.
The Vikes struggled to keep up with the Pronghorns’ offensive pressure entering the second frame shooting just 21 per cent from the field. McLaughlin put the Vikes on his back and put up 14 points in the second quarter, while also going two-for-two from distance. The Vikes struggled to match the pace of Lethbridge and trailed 33-27 at halftime.
Victoria found their offensive strides entering the third quarter. Tibbs was forced to take a seat on the bench after early foul trouble but Mack Roth got the home side off to a good start with a long three to trim Lethbridge’s lead. Late in the quarter, Roth also put up two key free throws to give the Vikes the lead for the first time with three minutes left in the quarter. Lethbridge’s Watkins had a crowd-silencing dunk to get the visitors back on track and back in the lead, 45-41, entering the final quarter.
Back with a fresh mind and rested legs, Tibbs took control of the floor in fourth. The senior showed his variety in scoring ability to total 16 of the Vikes’ 25 points in the frame. Tibbs dropped two timely long bombs to play catch up and got the Vikes in front sinking a bucket at the shot clock buzzer with only 20 seconds. Tough defensive work and a pocked of free throws from McLaughlin sealed the deal for Victoria but Lethbridge had one last-ditch effort at the final horn. Off the in bound Lethbridge’s Lynden Nummi had his buzzer shot from way beyond half drop but it was the home team that took the game 66-62.
“We have four more games left and it sounds cliché but we really have to just focus on one at a time,” added Beaucamp, whose team is on pace to secure a quarter-final spot and host Feb. 27 to Mar. 1.
Up next, the Vikes visit the Brandon Bobcats for a pair of games, Feb. 6-7. Tip off is set for 6 p.m. on Feb. 6, with live video and statistics available for viewing at canadawest.tv.
UVIC: 9-18-14-25: 66
LETH: 15-18-12-17: 62
UVIC: Chris McLaughlin (27), Marcus Tibbs (25)
LETH: Brandon Brine (12), Brent Watkins (24), Rob Olsen (11)