(By University of Regina Sports Information)
REGINA – The University of Regina's men's basketball team saw a 13-point fourth-quarter lead nearly evaporate, but the Cougars were able to hold on for an 82-77 victory over UBC Okanagan on Saturday night at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
The Cougars still had a double-digit lead after a Greishe Clerjuste jumper put them back up by 10 with just under three minutes to go, but that turned out to be Regina's last field goal of the game. UBC Okanagan then went on a 9-2 run featuring a big triple by Aldrich Berrios to get with three points, but that was as close as the Heat would get. The visitors got a stop on the next possession, but Brayden Kuski forced a jump ball following the rebound to get the ball back and a Benjamin Hillis free throw got the lead back up to four with just seconds to go.
"We thought tonight would be a different game than last night and it certainly had a different flow to it," Cougars head coach Steve Burrows. "We did what we've done for most of the year and found a way down the stretch, but we'll have to do a better job of late-game management moving forward."
Kameron Vales hit four three-pointers for the second time in as many nights, ending up with a team-leading 18 points for the Cougars. Carter Millar collected 12 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double and also dished out a team-high five assists, while three players – Nick Barnard, Clerjuste, and Myles Hamilton – all finished with 10 points for the U of R.
The loss overshadowed a huge night for UBC Okanagan's Triston Matthews, who finished with a game-high 28 points and also led all players with 13 rebounds. Hafith Moallin added 21 points for the Heat, while Berrios finished with 17.
The Heat drop to 5-11 with the setback. They're one win back of Thompson Rivers and Victoria who are tied for the final two Canada West playoff berths, but at 6-8 both of those teams have two games in hand on UBC Okanagan. The Heat's final four conference games will all be at home, as they'll host MacEwan and Victoria the next two weekends.
Regina improves to 10-4 on the season. The Cougars will now prepare for two consecutive weekends away from the CKHS, as they'll play at Thompson Rivers next Friday and Saturday and at Winnipeg the following weekend (Jan. 25/26).