Cameron Doherty, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The Thompson Rivers WolfPack outscored the UVic Vikes by 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime combined to pick up an 86-82 victory in what was a dramatic start to the second half of the Canada West men's basketball season on Jan. 5, inside the CARSA Performance Gym.
"It was tough game right from the start, only a two or three point difference throughout the first half. We made a run in the third quarter and stretched it to ten but then they made a run right back," said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp. "The stats were very even right across the board. In these games it's the little things that you look back on; the stop that you didn't get or the shot that you missed."
The win was the fourth in a row for a WolfPack team that has now fought their way back to a record of 6-7.
"We are getting better as the season goes along," said WolfPack head coach Scott Clark. "We lost five or six games in a row because we didn't have strong depth due to injuries, so it's nice to have that right now."
The loss drops the Vikes to 6-5, as the two teams remain deadlocked in a tight race for playoff positioning.
Anton Bilous led the WolfPack with 23 points in the contest. The third-year guard from Cherkassy, Ukraine was a difference maker down the stretch as the WolfPack fought their way back from a 12-point deficit after three quarters. Luke Morris added 22 points and nine rebounds for the WolfPack, while Joe Davis finished with 12 points and nine boards despite fouling out of the game halfway through the fourth quarter.
Second-year guard Scott Kellum was on fire from long range throughout the game. The reigning Canada West rookie of the year went 7-for-13 – including five in a row in the third quarter – to score a game-high 27 points.
"He got to a point where the basket looks pretty big and was hitting shots from everywhere," said Beaucamp. "We didn't really pick up on that momentum though, and they were able to eke their way back into the game in the fourth."
Justin Kinnear scored 13 and Taylor Montgomery-Stinson 10 to be the only other Vikes in double-figures on the night.
A back-and-forth start to the game gave way to a second half that was full of momentum swings.
Buoyed by Kellum's hot hand, the Vikes outscored the WolfPack 28-18 in the third quarter to stretch their lead to 12 points entering the fourth.
However, as good as the Vikes looked in the third, the WolfPack looked even better in the fourth.
The team from Kamloops came charging all the way back and a Bilous jumper with two minutes left to play gave the WolfPack a 69-68 lead, their first since the halfway mark of the second quarter.
Now trailing 71-68, the Vikes were able to fight back and tie the game up when Kinnear battled through contact to hit a layup and make the ensuing free throw to tie the game with 34 seconds left to play.
After a miss from the WolfPack, Kellum had a chance to win the game as time expired, but his effort rattled off the backboard and all around the rim before bouncing out to send the game to overtime tied at 71.
"Overall it was a pretty well played game, it just comes down to doing little things throughout the game so that it doesn't come down to the very last shot," said Beaucamp.
The Vikes took the lead early in the overtime frame but after Tyus De Vries hit just his second basket of the night to cut the lead to 80-79 with 1:44 left to play, it was all TRU to the end.
Derek Rhodes hit his only three of the game with one minute left to play and then Bilous connected on a jumper to make it 85-80 for the 'Pack with 30 seconds left.
"We did a terrible job for a stretch there guarding Kellum and he made us pay," said Clark. "We hung in there and were fortunate to get a win tonight, Victoria is a good team, really well-coached and there was some luck involved there on our end."
The Vikes will get their shot at revenge when these two teams meet tomorrow, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. inside the CARSA Performance Gym.
"We don't change anything, we can't get too high or too low, it was a big game today but tomorrows game is just as big," said Beaucamp. "We have nine games left in the second half and those will all be big games so you have to have a short memory; win or lose."
VIC: 14-19-28-10-11: 82
TRU: 11-20-18-22-15: 86
VIC: Scott Kellum (27), Justin Kinnear (13), Taylor Montgomery-Stinson (10)
TRU: Anton Bilous (23), Luke Morris (22), Joe Davis (14)