(By University of Regina Sports Information)
REGINA, Sask. – Playing on home court for the first time this season, the University of Regina's men's basketball team didn't allow a field goal in the final five minutes and pulled away for a 74-64 win over Fraser Valley on Friday night at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
While the Cougars never trailed, it certainly wasn't easy.
Fraser Valley used a 12-0 run in the third quarter to erase a double-digit Regina lead and draw the score level at 47-47 late in the period. The teams went into the fourth all tied up, but after a four-point play by UFV's Sukhman Sandhu at the midway point of the final quarter Regina's defence went to work. The only points the Cougars surrendered after that came off three Vick Toor free throws, and back-to-back three-point daggers on consecutive possessions by second-year guard Benjamin Hillis with under two minutes to go sealed the win for Regina.
"I thought it was a strange game tonight with neither team really establishing any flow whatsoever," Cougars head coach Steve Burrows said. "These are difficult games to play in and you have to give them credit for sure – they were game and made plays when it mattered, especially in the third. We were fortunate to have Ben (Hillis) hit a couple big shots for us late or else this one could very well have gone the other way."
Shawn Lathan had his second double-double in as many games for the Cougars, leading the team in both points (19) and rebounds (11) in the win. Hillis finished with 15 points, while Shaquille Harris made his Canada West debut and had 13 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench. Brandon Tull added 11 points, five rebounds, and four steals.
Toor finished with 16 points and seven assists to lead UFV (1-4) in both categories.
The Cougars jumped out to a 21-10 lead after the opening quarter thanks to six points by Tull and two buckets apiece by Shaquille Harris, Samuel Hillis, and Brian Ofori. Fraser Valley battled back in the second, cutting the Regina lead to four points on two separate occasions before six straight points by the Cougars restored the double-digit advantage at halftime.
It looked like the Cougars might begin to pull away in the third after a small 6-0 run punctuated by a fast-break dunk by Alex Igual gave the Cougars a 12-point lead, but that's when Fraser Valley got right back into it. The visitors scored 12 consecutive points, including eight straight in under a minute by Toor.
The Cougars had only two field goals themselves in the last half of the fourth quarter, both of which came on the late Hillis triples. But the Cougars also got to the line four times in that span, and Samuel Hillis and Alex Igual both hit a pair of clutch free throws down the stretch to build up the lead.
The Cougars (2-1) will host the Cascades again on Saturday night at the CKHS. Opening tip is scheduled for 8:00.