Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – After losing in gut-wrenching fashion in their season opener, the University of the Fraser Valley men's basketball team was determined not to go through that experience again.
The Cascades turned in a gritty, team-oriented performance, fending off a furious fourth-quarter comeback by the Thompson Rivers WolfPack to prevail 83-72 at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.
The WolfPack (1-1) had stunned the Cascades (1-1) on Friday, going the length of the court for a game-tying triple by Enrico Nuno in the dying seconds of regulation to force overtime, and going on to a 69-64 win.
The Cascades bounced back thanks to a balanced attack, with five players scoring in double figures on Saturday: Parm Bains (18 points), Mark Johnson (14), Sukhjot Bains (12), Daniel Adediran (12) and Sukhman Sandhu (11).
Michael Rouault scored a game-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting to pace the WolfPack, and Derek Rhodes and Joe Davis chipped in with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
"The biggest takeaway for me from this game was that we showed the character we showed, rebounding from Friday night," Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said afterward. "We came back even harder, even more determined, even more together.
"As a group, they were determined to get this win, and whatever it took to get it done, they were willing to do. TRU made the run we were expecting them to make (in the fourth quarter) – they're a really good team. But our guys stood together and kept battling, and found a way to pull it out."
The Cascades seized control of the proceedings thanks to an 11-2 run midway through the first quarter, capped by a Daniel Adediran dunk, and they led 24-15 after 10 minutes of play. The hosts expanded the lead to as many as 14 points in the second quarter, and led 45-38 at halftime.
UFV led by as many as 20 points in the third, going up 68-48 with 1:56 left in the frame on a Nav Bains jump shot. But the WolfPack mounted an impressive push-back, outscoring the Cascades 18-2 on a run that bridged the third and fourth quarters.
But with 4:20 left in regulation and his team having gone scoreless for over five minutes, Mark Johnson swished a corner three-pointer off some excellent ball movement, Parm Bains followed with a baseline runner, and Sukhjot Bains nailed a pair of triples to salt the game away.
Nav Bains, the Cascades' fifth-year veteran centre, came off the bench with 4:36 left on the clock, and his energy and rugged play in the paint were vital. He finished with nine points and five boards in 16 minutes.
"He gives us energy, toughness and leadership," Friesen said. "When they were on their run, even though we took away some shooting with Sukhman (Sandhu subbing out), we knew Nav's energy and toughness and determination that he brings to the whole group is what we needed at that time. I don't think it's a coincidence that their run seemed to stop once Nav got into the game."
TRU head coach Scott Clark said his team dug itself "way too big a hole."
"We just didn't have the toughness to win on the road today," he said. "There were too many mistakes. Fraser Valley is a really good basketball team, and you can't make a bunch of mistakes against good basketball teams. We did that, and full credit to them. Their energy and effort was great. We got what we deserved and they got what they deserved."
The Cascades are on the road next weekend to face the Saskatchewan Huskies, while the WolfPack are on a bye and return to action Nov. 9-10 for their home openers vs. UVic.