Josh McAvoy - UNBC Athletics
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - The University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves were in for close-knit affair as they took on the University of Winnipeg Wesmen Friday evening. The game was decided in the final minutes as both teams traded leads throughout the night. It was late game heroics from Jovan Leamy, which helped the Timberwolves prevail with a 84-82 victory, Friday, November 2nd at the Charles Jago Sports Centre.
The Timberwolves came out hot as they took a 15-3 lead to start the game. Jovan Leamy led all scorers with 17 in the first half, but the Wesmen made a quick comeback inspired by Spas Nikolov's presence in the paint, as he battled for multiple second-chance points to will the Wesmen back to a one-point deficit. The two teams continued to trade baskets in the second frame as Vova Pluzhnikov added eight points to help the Timberwolves take a 44-37 lead in to the second half.
"We don't really care who is guarding us," said Leamy postgame. "We try to attack every matchup as though it is a mismatch. Good things happen when we play like that."
A late third quarter three-pointer from the Wesmen's Will Sesay sparked momentum for the team as they began to pile the pressure on the Timberwolves. The Wesmen closed out the quarter with a 7-0 run, capped off by a brilliant and-one from Narcisse Ambanza, which left them trailing the Timberwolves 65-63 at the end of the third quarter.
"My team was getting me the ball in good spots," said Ambanza postgame. "The message was to keep playing hard, limit turnovers, and keep rebounding. We tried to limit their second chance points."
The Wesmen continued where they left off in the third, with Billy Yaworksy scoring five points in the first minute of the quarter. Both teams exchanged blows, with the lead being traded back and forth. With under a minute remaining, Billy Yaworksy hit a fading corner three with one-second left on the shot clock to bring the Wesmen within one point of the Timberwolves. The Wesmen's late game efforts fell short, as free throw shooting was enough for the Timberwolves to escape with a 84-82 victory.
"This is just Canada West," said TWolves coach Todd Jordan. "We go on a run, they go on a run. Today, I felt like there was a point we could have put the game away and we didn't. Credit to them for coming back, but we were fortunate to get the win tonight."
It was an incredible night for Jovan Leamy, as he led all scorers with 34 points, and 10 rebounds. His great defensive block with minutes remaining, as well as clutch free throw shooting helped ice the game for the Timberwolves.
"Winnipeg is just very competitive, and it brings out the competitive side in me," said Leamy. "This is a big year for our team, and we have a lot of things we can accomplish. I tried to lead these guys, and they do a great job to put me in spots to be successful."
The Wesmen refused to go away, as big nights from Narcisse Ambanza (23 points) and Billy Yaworsky (19 points, 5 rebounds) helped them keep close. The Wesmen will be hungry tomorrow as they look for revenge on dropping to 0-3 on the season.
"They got us last year, and we want to come back and return the favour," said Ambanza. "Both teams are out there trying to play hard, and win so we can get a higher seed in Canada West."
The victory pushes the Timberwolves to 3-0 on the season, as they look to continue their unbeaten record tomorrow night as the two teams face off tomorrow night at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.
"It's a good feeling, especially coming from where we were at this point last year," said Leamy. "To win close games, and know we can close out games, we will keep improving from here."