By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team successfully completed the two-game sweep of the visiting Alberta Golden Bears winning Game 2 of this quarter-final series, 81-67, to punch their ticket to the Canada West Final Four. Canada West Outstanding Player of the Year and fifth year Vike Chris McLaughlin dominated the show with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Behind McLaughlin in scoring was fourth year Marcus Tibbs who totaled 19 points and six assists. The fresh breath of energy for the Vikes was undoubtedly rookie Junior Sesay who finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and three steals. The Vikes had 20 points from their bench and out-rebounded Alberta 40-27, while shooting 45 per cent from the field.
“Junior tonight gave us so many great minutes, energy wise, which was so key for us and our leaders were also very good,” said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp, whose team closed out McKinnon Gym’s final basketball game ever in winning fashion. “Marcus was good offensively and sort of set the table for us and Chris was just a huge pillar of strength.”
Despite the final score margin Alberta were in it for most of the game dictated by the fact that the lead changed 11 times and the score was tied 13 times. Fifth year Kenneth Otieno closed out his final game as a Golden Bear nailing five of his eight three-point attempts to lead his team with 21 points. Third-year point guard Youssef Ouahrig logged 14 points, while Canada West First Team All-Star and fifth-year guard Joel Friesen capped his final season with 11 points and seven rebounds.
“Kind of like last night we seemed to get better as the game got older,” added Beaucamp. “The deeper we got into the game the more we had consistent stops and consistent offence.”
It was a tight opening quarter that saw the Vikes out-score the Bears 18-15. Both teams traded buckets with Tibbs logging nine points for the Vikes. Otieno went two-for-two from beyond the arc to finish the quarter with eight points for Alberta.
In the second quarter it was a game of runs as Victoria had six quick points from McLaughlin, while Otieno’s buckets from distance kept Alberta on the board. Late in the stretch Alberta went on a 10-0 run thanks to three pointers from each of Ouahrig and Andriy Halushko. Victoria’sPatrick Pilato responded with a trey of his own as the Vikes trailed 37-36 to Alberta entering half time.
Playoff pressure continued to ride throughout the third quarter as the teams traded buckets to tie the game twice and stay tightly in check with each other. McLaughlin was the first to sink his and-one bucket to tie the game at 40 earlier in the third, while Otieno’s fifth trey of the night got the Golden Bears up 47-46 at a critical time. Back-to-back buckets from third year Brett Roughead extended Alberta’s lead to 51-49 but a huge Mack Roth jumper got the game squared again, this time at 51.
The Vikes went ahead at the end of the third after a Pilato distance shot, a solo lay up from Tibbs and then two free throws from Reiner Theil. Alberta trailed 62-54 entering the fourth.
In the final stretch the Vikes out-scored Alberta 19-13 and the jam-packed crowd was on it’s feet for two big plays from McLaughlin including a huge dunk and a baseline three-pointer. Fifth-year Golden Bears Otieno and Friesen showed their resilience playing right to the final buzzer. The Vikes took Game 2 with a 81-67 final score and advance to the conference semifinals set for next week, Mar. 7-8.
“We talk about it all the time and try not to get to high,” added Beaucamp about the quick turn around for next week’s Final Four playoffs. “We’ve survived and that’s it. Looking ahead we have at least one more game next weekend.”
The top two teams from the Canada West will qualify for the CIS Final 8, hosted by Ryerson University, Mar. 12-15, in Toronto, Ont.
ALB: 15-22-17-13 : 67
UVIC: 18-18-26-19 : 81
ALB: Kenneth Otieno (21), Youssef Ouahrig (14), Joel Friesen (11)
UVIC: Chris McLaughlin (22), Marcus Tibbs (19), Junior Sesay (10)