By Ardy Ramezani, Vikes Communications

(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – Despite trailing the Trinity Western Spartans for the majority of the opening half, the University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team turned it around and then some in the second half to come back and beat the Spartans 99-79. The Feb. 13 win improves the Vikes to a 14-5 record, while the Spartans drop to 2-18. The Vikes remain tied at the top of the standings with Saskatchewan, who also found victory tonight.

Four Vikes logged double digits on the scoreboard. Fourth-year point guard Marcus Tibbs had a phenomenal night, tagging 29 points and sinking five out of his seven three-point attempts. Fifth-year senior Chris McLaughlin posted 25 points and had eight rebounds. Second yearJordan Charles and fourth-year Mack Roth were equally as impressive with 18 and 17 points, respectively.

Fifth-year Justin Bakuteka was the leading scorer for the Spartans, tallying 21 points, while fellow senior Denny McDonald and fourth-year forward Taylor Heinrichs followed with 17 and 12 points, respectively.

Tip off heavily favoured Trinity Western as the court seemed to tilt in favour of the visitors and it was noticeable on the score board. The Spartans held a 10-point lead but three pointers by Tibbs and Jordan helped bring the Vikes back into the game. Tibbs sunk another shot from behind the arc to put the Vikes within two of the visitors but Heinrichs answered back right away on the other end. Play continued in favour of Trinity Western right up to a 24-16 lead at the end of the frame.

In the second, the Heinrichs, Bakuteka and McDonald trio took control of the court as they combined for 14 of Trinity Western’s 17 second-quarter points. Unable to counter, the Vikes trailed by 10 points, down 41-31, entering half time.

Charles got the home side off on a positive note opening the third quarter sinking an early three pointer but Trinity Western’s Bakuetka responded with a jumper in the end. Although, a back-and-forth pattern looked to be emerging, Tibbs silenced the Spartans with a long range three that was followed by a three-point play from McLaughlin to put the Vikes within one point of the Spartans. Tibbs quickly managed to steal the ball and carried it to the other end to put the Vikes up for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.

The third quarter proved to be the hottest for the Vikes, as they posted an incredible 43 points, heading into the final quarter leading 74-62.

The Vikes carried their momentum from the third quarter with the Spartans unable to slow them down. With another 25 points in the fourth, the Vikes totaled 68 points in the second half, evidence of their night-and-day performance. The Vikes failed to break into triple digits but were likely just relieved to comeback to win 99-79 at the final whistle.

Prior to the match, the Vikes honoured graduating fifth years McLaughlin and Jeremy-Leonard Smith. McLaughlin is the team’s true fifth year, having spent all five of years of his CIS eligibility in blue and gold, while transfer Leonard-Smith played only his fifth season with the Vikes. Previously, Leonard- Smith was a standout for the Bishop’s Gaiters. Trinity Western will graduate key players and seniors McDonald and Bakuteka.

The Vikes and Trinity Western will be back at it tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. There will be a Vikes Athletics “McKinnon Era” celebration as it will be the last regular season game to be played at Ken and Kathy Shields Court in McKinnon gymnasium before the Vikes move in to their brand new home, CARSA, this spring. 

UVIC: 16-15-43- 25: 99
TWU: 24-17-21- 17: 79

UVIC: Marcus Tibbs (29), Chris McLaughlin (25), Jordan Charles (18), Mack Roth (17)
TWU: Justin Bakuteka (21), Denny McDonald (17), Taylor Heinrichs (12)