Rich Abney, UNBC Athletics
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - It wasn't the Seniors Night celebration the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves had planned, falling 106-68 to the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, Saturday February 2nd, at the Charles Jago Northern Sports Centre in Prince George.
In the final home game for fifth-years James Agyeman, Austin Chandler, Jovan Leamy, and Vaggelis Loukas, the TWolves had a tough time making shots, and an even tougher time slowing the dynamic Horns, settling for the loss to round out the regular season schedule.
Coming off a 96-90 win on Friday, the Timberwolves looked to continue that pace, but fell behind and were unable to recover. The Pronghorns shot 48% from the field in the first half, and were able to limit the Timberwolves to just 21% shooting. Vova Pluzhnikov scored ten in the half for UNBC, but Chad Oviatt made a trio of three-pointers for Lethbridge, who silenced the Prince George crowd with a 45-23 lead.
"We took care of the ball and good looks," said Oviatt postgame. "We attacked and didn't settle. Last night was disappointing, and we knew we had to come out swinging."
"In that second quarter, they came out with a lot of energy and we didn't match it," said UNBC's Jovan Leamy. "They attacked us. They punched us and we didn't punch back. Kudos to them for coming out strong."
Todd Jordan looked to his bench in the second half, allowing freshmen Colburn Pearce, Spencer Ledoux, Chris Ross, and Kaelen Mcneight to get valuable game experience. Lethbridge coach Mike Hansen saw his team's advantage grow to 33, so he too was able to utilize his reserves.
Oviatt continued to shoot the ball well from long-range, going 7-for-ten from beyond the arc, good for 32 points on the night. The TWolves young players showed good pushback in the final frame, as Ross and Mcneight had flashes that livened the hometown crowd, but the score read 106-68 when time ran out.
"The hoop just felt big tonight," said Oviatt. "They left me open and I pulled when I could. I shot when I was open."
A bright moment for UNBC was Jovan Leamy's free-throw in the fourth quarter, giving him 361 points on the season, breaking Rhys Elliott's program record for most points in a single season.
Pluzhnikov was the only TWolf to score in double figures, scoring 14 points in 22 minutes. Leamy finished with nine points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Saje Gosal and Kaelen Mcneight each had seven points off the bench.
Oviatt's 32 points paced the Pronghorns, who had six players in double figures. Eric Pierce had 17 points and five rebounds, Kyle Peterson had 12 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, while Zac Overwater had 14 points, Colton Gibb had 13, and Mike Pierzchala was good for 10 points and nine boards.
The win improves the Pronghorns record to 12-8, setting up a home playoff game against the Victoria Vikes on Friday, February 8th. The TWolves finish the campaign 9-11, and will travel to Fraser Valley for a Thursday night clash with the Cascades.
"Our offense never seems to be the problem. We score over 100 pretty consistently," said Oviatt. "We just have to keep that momentum, and defensive momentum going into the playoffs."
"We have the experience of being on the road, and grinding a win out," said Leamy about the playoff matchup. "We have returned a lot of players who played in last year's game, and I think that is going to help us."