The University of Victoria Vikes edged out the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack 66-62 on Friday night at the CARSA Performance Gym.
It’s only January, but playoff basketball has arrived at Ken and Kathy Shields Court, as both teams entered this evening’s bout on the periphery of earning a first-round bye in the Canada West playoffs.
This tightly contested affair saw the Vikes (11-4) lead by a maximum of four, while the WolfPack’s biggest lead was seven. There were four ties and 10 lead changes in the game, with the last change coming in the final three minutes.
Jason Scully started the evening 1-for-5 from the floor but made some huge plays that pushed the Vikes over the top in the back-and-forth battle.
Down two with 2:40 remaining, Scully sunk his only three of the game from the corner to put the Vikes up 63-62.
Two possessions later, he came flying out of the rafters to grab an offensive rebound and set up Diego Maffia for the dagger three from the bend with 1:30 remaining.
Early on, nobody on the Vikes was grabbing offensive rebounds. At halftime, the WolfPack were winning the battle on the offensive glass 8-1.
Leading the charge for the WolfPack (11-4) was the Canada West’s fifth-leading rebounder Micheal Rouault.
Whenever the Vernon product wasn’t tipping in misses, he was twisting and turning his way to the hoop, as he finished with a team-high 17 points on 14 shots.
The Vikes approached Rouault and the WolfPack’s rebounders differently in the second half.
Matthew Ellis played with foul trouble all night, but led the Vikes with eight boards. The Vikes leader in points per game was having an unusual low-scoring night, but was picked up by fellow big man Hayden Lejeune.
The fifth-year senior Lejeune was second on the team with six rebounds. After rim-running in the first half for nine points, Lejeune upped his aggressiveness in the paint and earned a season-high 21 points, capped off by his first three-point field goal of the season.
A shot-for-shot guard battle was brewing early, as Aaron Tesfagiorgis was a perfect 4-for-4 in the second quarter. The Calgarian also canned a two threes in the second half and finished a lovely hoop and the harm after suspending long enough in air to draw contact.
Guarding Tesfargiorgis was Keith Rojhae Colbert, who matched his check by cashing in on a pair of up-and-under baskets in the first half. The Arizona native was the sharpest shooter for the WolfPack, as he knocked down 6-of-10 shots. He matched Tesfagiorgis’ output with 14 points.
The WolfPack will be back at Ken and Kathy Shields Court tomorrow evening to wrap up the weekend set at 7 p.m. They will follow the women’s game and also take part in the Shoot For The Cure fundraising event.