“Birds outlast Heat for sixth consecutive victory
VANCOUVER — The UBC Thunderbirds (10-5) held off the UBC Okanagan Heat (5-12) to celebrate their sixth straight win with a hard-fought 94-86 Friday night at War Memorial Gym. Without playing their second-best scorer, brian wallackThe ‘Birds showed their strength with three players scoring over 15 points en route to victory.
“We had to play a bit with our line-ups tonight,” said the UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. “I think we played with a little more confidence on the track. We didn’t play very well the whole game, but on defense we stopped and made adjustments when needed. It’s difficult to replace Brian [Wallack] and finding rotations to fill his minutes and 18 points per game, but his lead is a big chunk that we also missed. We were just trying to find something that worked and luckily we fired enough shots to get it done. UBCO are a prolific team with a lot of attacking weapons and we were a bit more aggressive in the end and it paid off. It’s a tough season and it was a tough game tonight.”
James Woods set a game high of 24 points for the T-Birds, Suchman Sandho scored 19 points with six boards, Triston Matthews had 18 points while Jack Cruz Dumont shot 71 percent from the field and finished the season with 12 points and a season-high seven assists.
Liban Yousef led the heat with 22 points, Jalen Shirley had 15 points and five assists while Gus Goerzen added 14 points and six rebounds and shot 4-on-5 from three in the loss.
The ‘Birds pulled off a 10-0 run in the first game, capped by two sandhu free throws to take a 14-4 lead in the first game, and led 23-17 after the first. Cruz-Dumont sliced through the lane at 29-21 for an easy two, but Yousef cut the heat deficit to 33-31 before Goerzen gave UBCO a one-point lead on a three. Sandhu restored a four-point lead for the ‘Birds with a three-pointer at 41-37, but the Heat kept up and a three-pointer from Gavin Ashworth on the buzzer sent the visitors into half-time only 48-45.
MB | UBC Men’s Basketball Leads UBCO Men’s Basketball by 48-45 at halftime. #GoBirdsGo pic.twitter.com/ZMc34hcP1l
— UBC Thunderbirds (@ubctbirds) January 28, 2023
Shirley brought UBCO within a switch, but another Sandhu triple put the T-Birds 61-58 and a Woods-Trey extended UBC’s lead to 69-61 before going into the final frame 71-65. Esaie Maurancy found Woods with a no-look pass to the triangle to maintain a six-point lead, but Shirley hit the rim squarely at 86-82 to stay within striking distance in the fourth. The ‘Birds continued their offensive work and took a seven-point lead in the last minute of the game and held on to the 94-86 win.
“We will continue to have to make adjustments,” said Hanson. “We’re still not happy with our defensive performance and energy so we need to make more changes but hopefully we can regroup and be ready to go.”
UBC and UBCO will be right back at it Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. PT to wrap up the series at War Memorial Gym.