Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – In a tightly contested game, it took a pair of extraordinary plays in the late going to put the University of the Fraser Valley men's basketball team over the top against the MacEwan Griffins.
The Cascades and Griffins battled back and forth throughout Friday's tilt at the Envision Athletic Centre – the game featured 10 ties and 11 lead changes, and neither team led by double digits. But it was the hosts who landed the last haymakers, in the form of a thunderous dunk from Nav Bains and a three-pointer from another area code from Manny Dulay.
Bains's throwdown started the Cascades' decisive 12-2 run with just over four minutes left in regulation. The fourth-year centre faked a dribble handoff to Vijay Dhillon before spinning to the hoop and finishing with an authoritative cram over a Griffins defender.
The dunk tied the score 65-65 and ignited the crowd, and Dulay gave them further reason to cheer with just over two minutes remaining when he pulled up on the fast break and launched a shot from well beyond the arc. It was an audacious shot, the type most players wouldn't even dream of trying. Never mind that Dulay was in the midst of a subpar shooting night – he would finish just 4-for-17 from the field. But the fifth-year point guard's shot was true, revving up the crowd once again.
Those highlight-reel plays helped spark UFV to a 77-72 victory. The Cascades (4-5, 10th in Canada West) and Griffins (3-8, tied for 14th) clash again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Envision Athletic Centre.
"Nav's dunk is one of those things that he'll probably remember for a long time, and it got the crowd and the team pumped up," Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said afterward. "It started a run – it had been pretty tied the entire game up to that point, and we started to get a little bit of separation.
"After Nav's play, you hope it can maybe ignite a spark. Then Manny's shot went down, and the momentum of the game, the energy of the game changed. You look for moments like that throughout the game, and we were finally able to find a couple."
Five Cascades scored in double figures, led by Bains with 16 points in just 20 minutes. Andrew Morris had a strong performance with 14 points off the bench, including a pivotal three-pointer in the late going, and Dhillon (13 points), Anthony Gilchrist (10 points) and Dulay (10 points, six assists) also chipped in offensively.
MacEwan's Keith Gerdes counted four three-pointers among his game-high 20 points, and Denzel James (15 points) and Thadius Galvez (12 points) joined him in double figures.
The Cascades have had their struggles with turnovers this season, but they had just 15 on Friday compared to 16 for the Griffins. The Cascades also won the battle of the boards 44-33.
"Overall, I was happy coming out of the break," Friesen said. "I think we, as a group, came ready to grind out the game. We needed to win the rebounding battle, we needed to win the turnover battle – we talked about that stuff all week, and I think that was a big part of the difference in the game."
BOUNCE PASSES: The UFV athletic department honoured its first class of Cascades Hall of Famers in a pregame ceremony. Inductees included builders Pat Lee and Jane Antil, women's basketball athletes Carolyne Lucy and Tracy MacLeod, and the 1987-88 men's basketball team.