Stu Walters/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER - The UBC Thunderbirds survived a scare from an early sharpshooting Trinity Western Spartans squad but the hosts were able to pull away in the final minutes to secure an 84-76 victory.
Trinity Western got off to a hot start that saw the visitors make 13 of their 20 first quarter field goal attempts, good for a very efficient 65 per cent shooting. This included a deadly 71 per cent from three-point land where they made five of their combined seven attempts to open up a 33-25 lead after 10 minutes. Second-year guard Pogos Trunyan led the way for the Spartans making both of his three-point attempts and scoring eight of his team-high 17 points in the first period. Trunyan would finish 4-of-7 from beyond the arc on the night, while fellow guard Vartan Tanielian offered up 16 points and five rebounds in the loss.
The T-Birds responded nicely in the second quarter with sharper execution outscoring the Spartans 20 to 10 to tie the score at 45-45 at halftime. 'Birds forward Conor Morgan led the charge in scoring six of his team-leading 22 points, while also grabbing five of his team-leading 13 rebounds in the frame.
The teams played a fairly even third quarter with Trinity narrowly outscoring the Thunderbirds 16-15, good for a 60-59 lead after three quarters but the hosts turned it on once again to pull away in the fourth quarter with a 25-16 point advantage.
'Birds second-year guard Isaiah Familia chipped in with eight points overall, none bigger than his second of two three-pointers on the night with just 24 seconds left in the game giving UBC an 82-76 lead to put the game out of reach.
Fifth-year guard Phil Jalalpoor also had a standout night for the T-Birds scoring 20 points and adding seven rebounds; he admitted the game was a little too close for comfort.
"You know back to backs are always tough but we had way too many defensive mistakes and it turned out way too close. They came out swinging, we weren't ready but at least we closed it out in the end."
Jalalpoor added that he was proud of his team for stepping up in the fourth quarter to avoid the upset.
"That was the one positive, at least we bared down in the end even though it was too close but we finished out the game with a mix of vets and some young guys that also made plays."
The Thunderbirds have now won four straight games and see their record improve to 6-2 on the season. The 'Birds head to Winnipeg next weekend for back to back games against the Wesmen.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds