Cameron Doherty, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The lead changed hands 11 times in the final four minutes of play as the UBCO Heat men's basketball scored the game-winning points with just 1.2 seconds left on the clock to defeat the UVic Vikes by a score of 73-72 inside the CARSA Performance Gym on Oct. 27.
"I thought it was a very tightly-contested game," said Heat head coach Pete Guarasci. "UVic is always a difficult place to play, they are well coached and organized so I am really proud of our boys and how much they battled to keep playing the game in front of them and not the scoreboard."
After trailing by ten points entering the final quarter of play, the Vikes fought back to take the lead with just seven seconds left on the clock when second-year Vike Scott Kellum stepped up and knocked down three free-throws in a row.
The Heat weren't going to be denied their first win of the 2017-18 season however, Aldrich Berrios received the inbounds pass, sprinted up the floor and got the tough bucket to fall to give the Heat the victory.
"He makes it easy for me," said Guarasci of Berrios. "At the end of the game I know he wants to take the shot and whether he makes it or not doesn't matter because I know that he wants it."
The Vikes trailed for much of the contest, down by as many as 15 in the third quarter before they stormed back late to make a game of it.
"The better team won tonight, they won three of the four quarters and when you try to steal games in the fourth quarter that you don't deserve to win then it doesn't usually work out for you," said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp. "Credit to them, they had some guys that made some plays and made some shots but we obviously weren't very good tonight."
Second-year guard Triston Matthews of the Heat led the game in scoring, recording 27 points and seven rebounds.
"Triston didn't have the best exhibition season but he kept on working and I'm so happy for him that tonight he had this kind of reward because he definitely deserves it," said Guarasci.
Berrios added 19 points on eight-for-fifteen shooting while Aloysius Callaghan rounded out the scoring for the Heat with 17 points.
Mason Loewen led the game for the Vikes as the fourth-year player shone in the first Canada West action of his career with 24 points. Scott Kellum added 13 points, seven of which came from the free-throw line while Justin Kinnear put up 12 points and seven rebounds.
"We couldn't get any traction defensively to start off with and we had a tough time moving the ball, we didn't hit free-throws and it was just a lot of unfocused play," said Beaucamp. "We have to be better tomorrow, but the bottom line is that the better team won tonight, we almost stole it but we didn't deserve to win that game."
The Canada West season is long and with lots of games left on the schedule Beaucamp said that the sting of this season-opening loss is something that the team can learn from in the games to come.
"I thought it was a better lesson for us losing than it was if we had won. If we would have stole that game tonight it probably would have been more of an injustice than anything else."
The two teams are back in action on the Ken and Kathy Shields Court inside the CARSA Performance Gym for a game that gets underway at 7 p.m.
"It's not going to be anything crazy, we just have to get back to getting stops and moving the ball on offence," said Beaucamp on what his team needs to do better. "I thought in the second half our effort got a little bit better but we were still making defensive mistakes once we got the game close."
UVIC: 17-14-16-25: 72
UBCO: 19-20-18-16: 73
UVIC: Mason Loewen (24), Scott Kellum (13), Justin Kinnear (12)
UBCO: Triston Matthews (27), Aldrich Berrios (19), Aloysius Callaghan (17)