Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team kept pace with its division rivals Friday night with a decisive, 98-82 win over the Manitoba Bisons in front of a crowd of 1,703. Six T-Birds scored double digits lead by a pair of 17-point performances from Jordan Jensen-Whyte and usual suspect Tommy Nixon, as the T-Birds led from start to finish.
“The guys have done a great job lately staying focused on the task and while tonight we gave Manitoba a few too many chances, we’ve been working on and improving on the in-game situations,” added UBC head Kevin Hanson. “As university athletes, they’re eager for the playoffs and as coaches we’re trying to keep them motivated.”
With just one career regular season game remaining, Nixon continues to pad his lead in a variety of Canada West statistical categories including three-point percentage, free throws, and points per game. With another 10 free throws tonight, Nixon is nine away from the UBC record set by Ken Morris in the ’94–95 season.
David Wagner put up his second best offensive output of the season with 15 points coming off the bench, nearly tripling his point-per-game average. Conor Morgan grabbed the games only double double with 12 points and 10 boards, while Tonner Jackson had 12 on the night. Amarjit Basi was the go-to guy for the Bisons, as he put up 15 points in the losing effort.
UBC continued its historical dominance against the Manitoba Bisons, improving to 16-0 lifetime against the Bisons, dating back to the 2001–2002 season. UBC is now 12-1 over its previous 13 games and lead the league in points, as the T-Birds offense has wrecked havoc on opposing defense this season.
“Different guys have stepped up due to a variety of injuries and we’re trying to give some rests and get certain guys in a rotation, especially now that we know we’ll be heading to the playoffs,” noted Hanson, who has no intention in letting off the gas in tomorrow’s season finale.
Out of the gates, Morgan had five of the T-Birds first 15 points, as UBC busted out to a 15-6 lead, an initial lead that would never be relinquished. Each team alternated baskets to make it a 20-11 game before the quarter ended with UBC comfortably out front by a 30-18 margin. Wagner subbed in midway through the quarter and was the games leading scorer after one quarter with nine points.
Andrew McGuiness drained a three to start the second quarter, making his first appearance since January 24, rebounding from an ankle injury. That was part of a 12-4 run to start the second as the blue and gold increased its lead to 20 points.
The Bisons would chip into the lead slightly and finish the first half bearing a 16-point deficit, with UBC owning a 51-35 advantage. The Bisons’ Stephen Walton had a team high nine points through two quarters, while Wagner continued to lead the T-Birds with 11 first-half points.
UBC’s Jackson was machine early in the third, potting an initial layup before intercepting the inbound pass and converting another basket, burning the Bisons for four straight points. The UBC lead hovered around the 20-point mark for the majority of the quarter, with the third quarter coming to an end at 80-55. Manitoba’s highlight came from Alfreeman Flowers after he laid down an emphatic dunk en route to a 14-point performance.
Manitoba played great in the fourth quarter but outscoring its UBC opponent by a mere nine points failed to create any sort of opportunity for a comeback. The Bisons had the seventh and final playoff spot locked up entering this weekend, but extend their losing streak to six games
With a Saskatchewan win Friday, the Huskies move into a tie for first place in the Canada West Pioneer Division with a 14-6 record, alongside Victoria, who also won Friday. With just one game left on the regular season schedule, the Thunderbirds can finish as high as second depending on tomorrow’s outcomes with home court advantage still a likelihood.
The graduating seniors will be honoured tomorrow night in the rematch as the season concludes with a 7 p.m. tipoff at War Memorial Gym.