Another hot start would lead the Heat to an important 72-59 victory over the MacEwan Griffins on Saturday night in the UBC Okanagan gym.
It was a near mirror-image of Friday night as UBCO came out scorching hot from behind the arc as they had five triples in the first quarter and 11 in the first half to build an early lead. They were able to hang on late as the Griffins made multiple attempts to get back into the game.
The win moves the Heat into the final playoff spot currently at 7-11 but most the teams around them two games in hand. This sets up a crucial two-game weekend series next weekend in Kelowna against the team currently a game back of them in the standings in the Victoria Vikes (6-10).
Triston Matthews led the UBCO attack with 21 points on the night while Hafith Moallin had 19 points and nine assists for the home team. Senior Aldrich Berrios was extremely efficient all night long, finishing with 18 points on just 11 shot attempts to go with seven boards and four assists.
The hot shooting and double-win weekend impressed the Heat men’s basketball championship team from 2008-09, who were on hand on Saturday night to witness this UBCO team as they push for a first-ever Canada West postseason berth. The 08-09 squad were featured with a half-time ceremony and words from UBC Okanagan athletics director, Tom Huisman, celebrating their banner year – 10 years ago.
MacEwan was led by Deonte Doslov-Doctor who had 13 points and eight boards for the visitors.
The Heat had the much better night on the offensive end of the floor as the finished the game shooting 46% from the field and 52% from deep. MacEwan shot just 30%, and 24% from behind the three-point line.
Heat head coach Ken Olynyk praised his team’s performance and commented on the big games next weekend. “We need a win to keep our hopes alive and I credit the guys because we played hard and we did a good job and now we got a chance which is all we can ask for.”
The home team couldn’t have asked for a much better start, as they jumped out to a quick 13-2 advantage halfway through the opening quarter en route to a 25-9 advantage at the end of the frame. MacEwan did a better job finding quality shots in the second as they dropped 25 points in the frame to narrow the Heat halftime advantage to 13 at 47-34.
In what was a much more defensive oriented half, neither team really found the looks they wanted in the second 20 minutes but the Heat were able to keep the Griffins at arms-length. MacEwan got as close as seven, with the score 49-42 but the Heat were able to respond thanks to the clutch shooting of Matthews and Berrios.
The Heat (7-11) will play one of the biggest weekend series in recent memory next weekend in Kelowna against the Victoria Vikes (6-10) while MacEwan (0-16) will play host to the Brandon Bobcats (2-14).
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat Sports Information