VICTORIA – Through 20 minutes of action the UVic Vikes men’s basketball team went shot-for-shot with one of the best teams in nation. Unfortunately for Victoria fans, things came apart in the final twenty minutes of play as the visitors fell 109-68 to the fourth-ranked UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver, B.C. on Feb. 2.
Trailing by just two points at the halftime break, the Vikes were then outscored by 39 in the second half as they struggled to keep pace with an explosive Thunderbirds offence.
UBC shot 51 per cent from the floor as a team and also racked up 25 assists on the night. The home team scored 37 points in the third quarter to turn what was a close game into an assured win for the T-Birds.
A trio of seniors led the way for UBC.
Phil Jalalpoor scored 36 points, Connor Morgan added 27 and Luka Zaharijevic finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in what was their final regular season action inside War Memorial Gym.
Mason Loewen came out of the gates on fire. The fourth-year guard from Victoria scored 12 of the Vikes first 14 points en route to finishing with a team-high 24 points and five rebounds. Loewen was the only Vike in double-digits on the night, hitting eight of his 13 shots in the game.
With the regular season in the rear view mirror, the Vikes must now play the waiting game.
Their record of 10-10 has clinched them a playoff spot, but with most teams finishing their season tomorrow night, their opponent remains to be determined. Their current spot of ninth-place in the conference will be reshuffled after the results from tomorrow night, with playoff seeding being determined by a team’s RPI.
Things looked promising for the Vikes at the start of the game. They shot 44 per cent as a team in the first half, and more importantly, played tough defence to hold the T-Birds to just 35 per cent from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
A slim 42-40 T-Birds advantage was blown open in the third quarter.
Morgan, Jalalpoor and Zaharijevic combined for nearly every point in a 26-6 Thunderbirds run to start the second half. From that point on the result was never in doubt, as the T-Birds were able to cruise through the fourth quarter to victory.