Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – One night after coming out on the wrong end of a 30-point blowout, the University of the Fraser Valley men's basketball team bounced back in epic fashion.
The Cascades defeated the U SPORTS No. 5-ranked Alberta Golden Bears on Saturday evening at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre, prevailing by a score of 80-73 behind a season-high 21-point outburst from fifth-year wing Andrew Morris.
The upset was all the more stunning on the heels of Friday's result – a 99-69 Golden Bears victory.
"We had a team talk after the game (Friday) where we told each other we were going to come with energy and play as a team, and that's what we did today," said Morris, whose Cascades improved to 2-4 while dropping Alberta to 3-3. "We moved the ball around, we knocked shots down early, and the good start is really what pushed us."
Indeed, the Cascades had great energy from the opening tip – they raced out to a quick 7-0 lead, capped by a Vick Toor layup that prompted the Golden Bears to call an early timeout. Toor continued to roll in the first quarter, scoring all eight of his points in the frame including back-to-back jumpers in the final minute to give the hosts a 22-12 edge heading to the second.
UFV maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the second and third quarters, and the margin was 17 after Morris opened the fourth with a putback layup.
The Bears responded with a 10-0 run, sparked by five points from Ivan Ikomey, to trim the deficit to 68-61. But the Cascades were able to make key plays down the stretch – among them, a triple from Mark Johnson to narrowly beat the shot-clock buzzer with three minutes left in regulation – and Alberta was never able to get within a single possession in the waning minutes.
"It gives us confidence," UFV head coach Adam Friesen said, reflecting on what the win means to his team. "As a group, we've had to learn some things – learn what makes us successful vs. top teams in this league. We've struggled with it some games, and other games we've been better. Today, our competitiveness level was where it needs to be."
Morris turned in an efficient shooting performance (6-for-9 from the field, 3-for-5 from three-point range, 6-for-6 from the foul line) on his way to a game-high 21 points. Parm Bains and Sukhjot Bains also chipped in offensively, scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively, and Toor added eight rebounds and eight assists to his eight points.
Alberta forward Brody Clarke had a double-double with 20 points and 13 boards, albeit on 5-for-18 shooting from the field, and Ikomey matched him for team-high honours with 20 points of his own. Dwan Williams added 14 points for the visitors.
Friesen noted that his squad benefitted from the return of leading scorer Sukhjot Bains, who had been sidelined for Friday's game due to injury. While he didn't put up an imposing stat line, Bains's willingness to battle through some pain "gave the rest of the group a lot of energy," Friesen said.
The Cascades bench boss also lauded the play of Morris.
"He was huge," Friesen said. "As a fifth-year senior, you expect him to step up when the team needs him most. The rebounds, the defence and the clutch shots – they were at the perfect time where the game could have gone and we could have lost it. He was big for us."
Both the Cascades and Golden Bears will be playing in Edmonton next weekend. UFV visits the MacEwan Griffins, while Alberta hosts the Lethbridge Pronghorns.