Saskatoon, SK – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team lost to the Fraser Valley Cascades by an 87-71 score in the Canada West bronze medal game in Saskatoon on Saturday evening. UBC was dominated in the second quarter and never recovered as Saturday marked the conclusion of four UBC players’ careers including Tommy Nixon, Brylle Kamen, Andrew McGuiness, and Tonner Jackson.
The UBC T-Birds held a 20-17 lead after the first quarter but were outscored 23-4 during a lengthy portion of the second quarter, a deficit the team would be unable to recover from thereon in. The Thunderbirds finish the 2014-2015 season with a 14-6 regular season record and were 2-2 in playoff action, suffering consecutive losses for the first time since Nov. 21-22.
With the win, the Fraser Valley Cascades earn the Canada West bronze medal, and finish their 2014-2015 season with a 17-3 regular season record and a 3-1 record in the postseason. Mathematically, Fraser Valley remains in the hunt for the CIS Final 8 At-Large Berth but that spot will likely go to the Ottawa Gee-Gees, as the OUA powerhouse is the front-runner in the nine necessary criteria for the at-large berth.
Kedar Wright finished with a game high 19 points off the bench for the second consecutive night, while Nixon and Jackson combined for 32 points in their university finale. Kamen failed to register a point and had one rebound and McGuiness had five points as four core UBC players see their T-Birds career come to a close.
Fraser Valley had brilliant depth scoring as five Cascades players finished with at least 15 points on the night, lead by Manjodh Dulay’s 18-point performance. UBC couldn’t take advantage of UFV’s short bench, however, despite only seven players seeing action on Saturday.
After UBC took a marginal three-point, 20-17 lead after one quarter, the Cascades went on a tear in the second quarter to exit the first half with a 10-point, 42-32 advantage. Fraser Valley’s Kadeem Willis had a four point play which was just one of many highlights during a 13-0 run midway through the quarter, comprising an incredible 23-4 run. Overall, Fraser Valley outscored UBC 25-12 in the second quarter led by Willis’ 12 points.
UBC’s Wright was the most effective player in the opening half but was just one of four T-Birds to get on the board at the break thanks to 17 first-half points. UBC was just 2-for-11 from three-point range in the half, while both teams shot between 40.7% and 46.9% from the field, with UFV being the more efficient team.
Luka Zaharijevic and Elijah Campbell-Axson also checked in during the second quarter of action, making their playoff debuts, adding valuable experience to their resume. Daniel Sutcliffe and Stefanos Fasianos would also make an appearance in the fourth quarter as UBC used the entirety of its bench on Saturday evening.
Fraser Valley kept their double digit lead in tact for the majority of the third quarter and had an 18-point lead at one point before UBC chipped away and kept themselves within striking range. Tonner Jackson nailed a buzzer beating three-ball to make it a nine-point, single digit deficit with the score showing a 61-49 edge for UFV.
In the fourth quarter Fraser Valley was plenty content running down each successive shot clock taking valuable time away from the Thunderbirds. Fraser Valley had a game high 19-point lead at the 6:48 mark of the fourth quarter, a lead that was insurmountable in hindsight.
The Thunderbirds finished the game shooting 27-for-56 (48.2%) from the field, better than Fraser Valley’s 31-for-69 (44.9%) shooting but were outperformed nearly two-fold in three-point shooting. Fraser Valley also had 32 points off turnovers to UBC’s nine points in that category.