Timberwolves down Spartans, secure first win of the season

Timberwolves down Spartans, secure first win of the season

PRINCE GEORGE – Rhys Elliott scored a game-high 21 points to help guide the UNBC men's basketball team to a 80-71 victory over the visiting Trinity Western Spartans Friday night at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.

It was the first win of the season for the Timberwolves who improve to 1-4 in the Canada West Conference.

"It's going to do a load of wonder for our confidence," said Elliott, a fifth-year shooting guard. "We've just been batting away at it and to get this win tonight is going to be good for the boys to prove we can do it." 

It was the second-straight loss for the Spartans who now fall a game below .500 at 2-3.

"UNBC, they just played very hard," said Spartans head coach Aaron Muhic. "They just outplayed us. They played better defence, they moved the ball better. Our guys need to learn from that. If we could learn to play as hard as UNBC and be as tough on the boards and on defence, we could be a good team." 

Timberwolves fifth-year point-guard Elliot Rowe knocked down six of seven treys for all 18 of his points. He also added five rebounds.

"Once he (Rowe) gets the crowd behind him and the confidence up, that guy is not going to miss," Elliott said. "You've got to get good looks."

The Spartans were led by third-year forward Patrick Vandervelden, who netted 20 points and collected nine rebounds. Third-year point guard Tyus Allen grabbed seven rebounds to go along with 13 points. 

UNBC ran out to a quick start in the game, and only trailed by two points in the first 14 seconds of the first quarter. The Timberwolves held onto a 17-11 lead midway through the first quarter and 24-16 after the first 10 minutes.

The Spartans didn't quit though as Vandervelden rolled in three-straight lay-ups sparking an 8-0 run early in the second quarter to tie the game at 24-24. 

However, the Timberwolves rebounded on a lay-up by Elliott and a three-pointer from Rowe as UNBC grabbed hold of the lead at the 3:53 mark of the second quarter.

Shortly after, UNBC went on a 10-2 run in a span of two minutes thanks to threes from Rowe and Vaggelis Loukas and ended the first half up 39-30.

The Spartans narrowed UNBC's lead to two at the end of the third quarter thanks to some clutch shooting by Allen at the free-throw line and trailed 60-58.

But thanks to strong defence by UNBC and clutch shooting from Rowe, who drained three shots from beyond the arc, as well as contributions from Loukas (three) and Elliott, the Timberwolves went on a 15-6 run for a 75-64 lead midway through the fourth quarter. They ran down the clock and hung on for the victory.

The two teams battle again Saturday with a 7 p.m. tip-off at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.

"The good news is we get to play tomorrow (Saturday)," said Muhic. "I think our team can be really good when we have people leading and people wanting to do things to help win and play as a team but we're not good individually and that was obvious tonight."