Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – Relentless rebounding, timely defence and clutch shooting comprised the recipe for success as the University of the Fraser Valley men's basketball team capped a weekend sweep of the UNBC Timberwolves with an 85-79 triumph on Saturday.
The Cascades, coming off an 81-62 victory over the T-Wolves the night before, dominated the boards for a second straight evening. After out-rebounding UNBC by a 54-33 count on Friday, they reprised that performance in the rematch, earning a 52-34 edge on the glass.
Those extra possessions made up for the fact that the T-Wolves were marginally more efficient offensively, shooting 40.3 per cent from the field to UFV's 38.2.
The visitors, in fact, got off to a scorching start, scoring 27 in the first quarter en route to a 44-41 halftime lead. But the Cascades tightened things up defensively in the third quarter, outscoring UNBC 23-12 in the frame to pull away.
In the fourth quarter, UFV's long-distance shooting sealed the victory. Every time the Timberwolves made a push, the Cascades would answer with a triple. They hit five in the final frame, including a trio of treys from 6'10" centre Sukhman Sandhu, who finished with a team-high 22 points and went 5-of-9 from downtown to go with three blocks in just 17 minutes of play.
When it was all said and done, UFV had earned its fifth straight win and boosted its record to 6-4 at the expense of UNBC, which fell to 5-3.
"Coming out of halftime, it's another chance to reset," Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said, reflecting on his team's decisive third-quarter surge. "As a group, wanted to have a better start to the third quarter than we did to the first quarter. Defensively, we didn't change anything – we just did the things we knew we were supposed to do harder, with more intensity.
"Offensively, we haven't been the most efficient, so we've really begun to understand the importance of rebounding and taking care of the basketball. We did those two things really well this weekend."
Point guard Parm Bains also had a big game for the Cascades, counting four triples among his 19 points to go with a team-best five assists. Mark Johnson had a double-double (12 points, 13 boards), and Sukhjot Bains did a little bit of everything with nine points, seven boards and four assists.
T-Wolves standout guard Jovan Leamy sparked his team early, scoring 15 of his game-high 23 points in the first half. Austin Chandler (15 points), James Agyeman (14), Tyrell Laing (13) and Anthony Hokanson (11) also scored in double figures for the visitors.
Afterward, UNBC head coach Todd Jordan noted that the rebounding differential was too much for his team to overcome.
"As simple as it is, I think that was the difference in the game," he said.
"We've been a pretty good rebounding team so far through the preseason up until now, and I think this is the first weekend we've really been beat up on the glass by anybody. That Fraser Valley team this weekend showed us a pretty good level of hard as far as going to the glass, and we need to be able to match that. Our schedule down the stretch, we've got a lot of bigger teams coming up, and that's going to be an important part.
"This league, it's a war every single weekend, and these things happen. You take two losses, and it's all about how quick you can rebound."
The Cascades hit the road next weekend to face the UBC Okanagan Heat, while the T-Wolves visit the Saskatchewan Huskies for a Thursday-Friday set.