Vikes finish strong to eke out weekend sweep of Spartans

VICTORIA – The UVic Vikes men’s basketball team was able to tighten up the defence when it needed to in a 69-65 victory over the Trinity Western Spartans inside the CARSA Performance Gym on January 28.

The Vikes held the Spartans scoreless for the final four minutes of the game as they turned a 65-65 tie into their second straight win.

“We kind of went back to old Vikes basketball, grind it out on the offensive side and win the game on the defensive side,” said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp. “The guys really dug their heels in in the last five minutes of the game and I’m really proud of that, that’s something we’ve struggled with all year and it was really good for the guys to shut them down.”

On the floor in those final minutes were three players in their first or second year with Taylor Montgomery-StinsonScott Kellum and JJ Hamel-Carey all showing defensive poise well beyond their years.

“Nobody else really cares how old you are, it’s about getting results, add in Graeme Hyde Lay and we had four first-years playing significant minutes for us,” said Beaucamp. “We didn’t always execute and we didn’t always hit open shots but we got stops and that was the difference.”

Despite picking up two losses on the weekend, the Spartans were in both games until the bitter end and just failed to find the scoring touch in the final minutes.

“It was a lot better game tonight for us, our defence was a little bit better and closer to how we want to play,” said Spartans head coach Aaron Muhic. “We communicated a lot better.”

First-year Vike Scott Kellum led the way offensively, missing just two shots all night as he went eight-for-ten from the field and five-for-six from beyond the arc. Justin Kinnear had a strong game down low, scoring 13 points. Grant Sitton rounded out the scoring with 11 points of his own to go along with five rebounds.

For the second game in a row Patrick Vandervelden paced the Spartans, recording a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Josiah Allison was clutch from long distance, scoring 12 points while going three-from-four three-point land. Max Viitala rounded out the scoring for the Spartans with 12 points and six boards.

The loss drops the Spartans to 2-14 on the year, a playoff spot may be out of sight this season but the two hard-fought losses on the road are a sign that the team is trending in the right direction.

“I am proud of the way we fought, it was good for us even though we didn’t come out on top,” said Muhic.

Trinity Western is back in action next weekend when they travel to Calgary to play the Mount Royal Cougars on February 3 and 4.

The win moves the Vikes to 7-9 on the year, where they are now locked in a four-way tie for ninth in the Canada West conference.

“When you start 2-6, you’re starting from the bottom and working your way up so we have just been taking it one game at a time,” said Beaucamp. “The tough thing is when you have a tough schedule early you lose a little bit of confidence too, so it was nice to get a couple wins this weekend.”

The Vikes will get the chance to play one of the teams they are tied with when they travel to Abbotsford to take on the Fraser Valley Cascades February 3 and 4.

UVIC (7-9): 15-25-17-12: 69
TWU (2-14): 16-20-18-11: 65

UVIC: S. Kellum (23), J. Kinnear (13), G. Sitton (11)
TWU: P. Vandervelden (16), J. Allison (12), M. Viitala (12)

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