Stu Walters/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – After a sluggish start the UBC Thunderbirds leaned on veteran guards Jadon Cohee and Manroop Clair to help them grind out a 87-81 Legends Cup victory over the Victoria Vikes to sweep the home and home series Saturday night at War Memorial Gym.
Cohee who came up clutch in the fourth quarter scoring 13 of his game-high 28 points in the frame, was lethal from three-point land on the night converting four of six shots from beyond the arc while also adding five rebounds and three assists. Meanwhile fellow fourth-year guard Clair added 21 points in his 29 minutes of action while second-year forward Grant Shephard narrowly missed a double-double in scoring 13 points and adding nine rebounds. The fourth member of the hosts to reach double digits in scoring was second-year guard Mason Bourcier who chipped in with 12 points and four rebounds.
Several standout efforts from the Vikes started with an outstanding night from guard Mason Loewen with a team-high 26 points to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists. Fellow guard Jordan Charles added 20 points and matched Cohee's impressive four of six shooting from beyond the arc. Jason Scully was also feeling it from outside for the visitors hitting on four of his seven shots from distance en route to his 18-point output and rounding it out for the Vikes was guard Taylor Montgomery-Stinson with 12 points.
The Vikes would open the third frame heating up once again from long range with consecutive three pointers from Charles and Scully before Shephard brought the home crowd to their feet with a dunk to extend their lead to 51-46. Then it was time for Scully to be heard from again with some impressive plays beginning with his second three pointer of the quarter, followed up by a fast break dunk of his own to even things at 51-51. UBC would close out the quarter with a Bourcier picking up the hoop and the harm for a three-point play while Shephard followed up shot from beyond the arc to cap off his quarter high nine points and a tight 64-62 lead for UBC after three frames.
The fourth quarter saw the T-Birds manage to find themselves a little breathing room in extending their lead thanks to veterans Cohee and Clair combining for 17 points while outscoring the Vikes 23-19. Cohee was especially dominant with three of his baskets coming in very timely fashion including two three pointers one of the bank shot variety forcing the visitors to call a timeout while trailing 80-72. Cohee would then convert on a slashing drive to the basket for an 83-79 lead before eventually securing the 87-81 victory.
Even though his team picked up the win UBC head coach Kevin Hanson wasn't very pleased with the process.
"I think we got a little bit lucky to be quite honest," said an exasperated Hanson. "We messed up a lot of defensive assignments, it was very frustrating to coach something we addressed for the last day and a half and as much as you preach the second game is always tougher. There were not many new wrinkles out of their part but we didn't come out and compete on the defensive end whatsoever so I'm really disappointed with that. They shot the ball really well and they still have a couple injuries that are hurting them and they're a veteran core, they start a lot of fifth year guys and they played like they wanted to win tonight and we were quite complacent."
Meanwhile Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp was pleased with his squad's overall effort.
"I think we competed harder than the other night and gave ourselves a chance and ultimately made a couple too many mistakes at pivotal points and they hit some timely shots." added Beaucamp. "For us I think it's just a matter of continuing to get better and I thought tonight we got a little bit better."
It was a back and forth start to the game with each team trading points early and with UBC in front 14-12 it was Vikes guard Taylor Montgomery-Stinson hitting one of the visitors three shots from long distance in the frame to take a 16-14 advantage leading T-Birds head coach Kevin Hanson to call his first timeout. UBC would respond by scoring the next two baskets courtesy of a Claire three pointer and a Shephard layup for a 19-16 lead before both teams would do more damage from distance in draining three straight baskets. Vikes guard Jason got it started but Clair responded for UBC ahead of Jordan Charles finishing off the trio of baskets from long range resulting in a 22-22 deadlock. The first quarter ended with Clair collecting a rebound with five seconds remaining and weaving his way up court to hit a layup as the buzzer expired and the hosts trailing 26-24. Clair led the way for UBC with 10 points thanks to hitting three of four from the field including two three pointers. Meanwhile for UVic it was Loewen and Barnes leading the way with eight points each. Both teams finished shooting an efficient 53 percent from the field after hitting an identical 9 of 17 field goals.
The T-Birds would come out focused for the second quarter and would outscore the visitors 21-14 with help from four for nine shooting from three-point land to match their first quarter output. Guard Mason Bourcier started it off with a three pointer to retake the lead while fellow guard Brian Wallack hit a circus shot under the basket for a 30-27 advantage. UVic would respond with Charles hitting two three-pointers in quick succession for a 38-35 Vikes lead wich led to a UBC timeout. As we saw in the previous quarter the 'Birds responded positively, this time by hitting consecutive three pointers of their own courtesy of Patrick Simon and Jadon Cohee to close out the quarter with a 45-40 T-Bird lead. Cohee and Simon led the way for the T-Birds with five points each while Charles added a quarter high seven points for Victoria.
With the win, the T-Birds improve to 3-1 on the season and hit the road next week for back to back games against the Manitoba Bisons next Friday and Saturday November 9 and 10th. After the setback, the Vikes fall to 1-3 on the campaign and also play away games next weekend at Thompson Rivers University.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds