Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan
KELOWNA, BC - To win their second game of the season the UBC Okanagan Heat defeated the same team that they notched their first ever Canada West men's basketball win against in the visiting University of Regina Cougars on Saturday night, by a final score of 79-70 in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
The Saturday UBCO win, much like in last night's contest, was close in the final moments of the fourth quarter, but this time with the Heat holding the lead instead of trying to come back. With the clock winding down, UBCO were able to make a number of free throws and play lock-down defence to maintain their nearly-double-digit lead. The home side was able to close out the final minute, and earned a nine-point victory.
The fourth quarter started with the Heat up nine points (54-45), before Aldrich Berrios made a free throw resulting from a technical foul to put the lead into double digits once again. The Cougars pulled within four with five minutes left in the game, after Brandon Tull made the score 61-57 for the Heat.
Berrios and Johnson then traded three-pointers to make it 64-60 with four minutes left. Berrios then made another three, a pair of free-throws, and a jump shot, around a Tull made free-throw, to stretch the lead to 10. Buzz Truss then went on a tear of his own, making four free-throws and a layup in less than minute to maintain the Heat lead. Johnson scored again, on a converted and-one, but a pair of Berrios free-throws with 31 seconds left put the game out of reach and sealed the victory for UBC Okanagan.
In that historic first UBC Okanagan win back in November of 2011 the Heat bumped off the Cougars 78-76, leading the team in scoring that night was Yassine Ghomari with 16 points, Ghomari has since returned to the Heat program as an assistant coach after playing two years professionally in Australia.
Tonight it was Aldrich Berrios who had the team high for UBCO. The third year guard scored 13 of his team-high 21 points in the pivotal final quarter.
Regina's Johneil Johnson was the highest scorer in the game, putting up 23 points. Behind him for Regina were Brian Ofori and Brandon Tull, who each scored 14.
Berrios, just like on Friday, was a solid one-two punch with fifth year guard Mitch Goodwin, also finished in double digits with 18 points. Triston Matthews was the game's rebounds and assists leader, finishing with seven and three respectively, and the first year wing was one of three UBCO players to finish with nine points.
Matt Lafontaine and Austin Penrose were the other two with nine on the evening.
As a team, the Heat had the better shooting night. The home side finished with the better field goal percentage (49% - 43.4%), three-point percentage (50% - 29.2%), and free-throw percentage (75.9% - 65.4%). UBCO also finished with the edge in rebounds (32-30), and assists (11-8), while Regina had the advantage in steals (14-9) and blocks (2-0).
The UBC Okanagan Heat men were able to take control in the first half, scoring 28 of the games first 39 points and ultimately taking a double-digit lead into the break. Mitch Goodwin got the scoring in the game started, with a three-pointer as the first basket just 20 seconds in. It was quickly answered by a Brandon Tull three-pointer for the Cougars, setting the tone for the half. Shots and points went back and forth, but the Heat were able to stay ahead throughout the remainder of the half, and stretched their lead through twenty minutes to 12 points, despite a converted and-one quickly followed with a steal and three-point attempt by Johneil Johnson with just seconds left before the break.
The UBC Okanagan Heat men (2-10) will play their next games at home, as they will host the University of Victoria Vikes (3-7) on January 13 & 14. The University of Regina Cougars (6-4) will play their next games at home as well, when they host the University of Manitoba Bisons (4-6) on the 13th and 14th.