Aneesa Heatherington, UBC Thunderbirds
The UBC Thunderbirds (6-1) turned up the heat in the second half for their fifth straight victory in an 88-60 win over the TRU WolfPack (2-3) at War Memorial Gym. UBC bounced back from a seven-point second quarter with a whopping thirty-four points in the third quarter - shooting 5 for 7 from three point range and 86.7% from the field.
"The second quarter was a little tough for us," said UBC Head Coach Kevin Hanson. "We had open looks but missed some open shots and missed some layups. I thought they were more aggressive in that second quarter holding us to just seven points. We stayed calm at halftime and said we're going to get our shots. We shared the ball a bit better, for a big part of the game there were only three guys that scored for us, and we wanted to get more guys involved. A lot of time our defence is dictated by how the guys are feeling on offence."
Manroop Clair put up a team-high 21 points, while Jadon Cohee (20), Mason Bourcier (15) and Grant Shephard (14) contributed double-digit point totals in the dominant home court win. Anton Bilous led the WolfPack with 11 points in 18 minutes of action and Michael Rouault finished with 10 points and 4 assists in the loss.
"I think we did a very fantastic job on defence in allowing just 60 points," said Clair. "We had a little bit of a lapse in the second quarter but came out in the third quarter and scored 34 as a team...from there on we just played really well."
Clair also spoke to the fact that he's starting to find his form after injury slowed him to start the season.
"I'm definitely getting in a rhythm now...in the first part of the pre-season I was hurt with a hamstring strain and out for seven games," added Clair. "I came back and had to get my rhythm back, my lungs back, and now I'm feeling pretty good."
Shephard got the ball rolling the T-Birds' way with a two-handed slam on their opening possession, and scored 10 points in the first as the 'Birds cruised to a 25-15 lead heading into the second quarter. TRU came out firing in the second quarter, going 7 for 8 from the floor as Joe Davis brought the WolfPack within six and Nathan Pasloske drained back-to-back threes to tie it up at 25-25 halfway through the frame. Shephard briefly restored the UBC lead at 31-30 on a layup, but the two teams entered halftime knotted up at 32-32.
The Thunderbirds regrouped at the half and stormed out with authority in the third quarter. Cohee hit his first three of the game to make it 43-36, and Bourcier connected from beyond the arc for a 51-43 advantage. Despite an impressive chase-down block by TRU's Enrico Nuno on a Clair break, the 'Birds continued to widened their lead to 66-47 after three.
Rouault got the WolfPack's second big block of the game on Grant Audu in the fourth, but Audu followed it up with a hoop and the harm for a three-point play at 76-49 UBC. The 'Birds held their largest lead of 31 points at the 5:13 mark of the final frame, and closed out the victory on night one of the weekend series.
The two teams are right back at it on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. inside War Memorial Gym, the T-Birds' last game before a bye week in Canada West play.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds