Jamelle Barrett: 35 points, 7 assists
Alex Murphy: 34 Points
VANCOUVER,BC–The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds defeated the University of Saskatchewan Huskies 107-100 to claim Canada West gold Saturday night. The game was a rematch of last years National Championship finals last year, a game in which the Huskies defeated the T-Birds 91-81.
The first quarter proved to be the difference in this game. UBC came out on fire, scoring the first nine points of the game. The first quarter was not kind to the Huskies, who trailed 23-9 at the conclusion of the opening frame and never led during the course of the entire game. Brent Malish led all scorers after the first quarter with eight points. Fellow fifth years Josh Whyte and Alex Murphy each had four points.
The Huskies had a large deficit to overcome and they were not going to do it all on in one possession. The Huskies slowly chipped away at the lead that UBC had worked to help establish. The second frame displayed the dynamic combination of guards Jamelle Barrett and Rejean Chabot. Barett found his rhythm and scored 16 points during the second stanza as did Chabot, who contributed 9 points during the second frame. Michael Lieffers was huge for the Huskies. He had several key rebounds and steals that led to scores and fouls.
Despite these stellar performances, UBC still held a nine-point cushion, 51-42, going into halftime. With Josh Whyte sitting on the bench for the majority of the second quarter in foul trouble, Alex Murphy scored 17 points to finish the half with 21 points to lead all scorers. Barrett was right behind with 18.
Saskatchewan continued to push the envelope however. They managed to pull within a single point during the third quarter. Barrett continued to rely on his ability to get to the basket to score, draw fouls and dish to open teammates. The quarter finished with UBC on top 69-66.
What truly saved UBC on this night, and particularly during the fourth quarter, was the free throw line. The T-Birds shot 34-for-40 (85%) and were led by Murphy. Murphy was absolutely unconscious from the free throw line, shooting an unbelievable 22-for-23 from the free throw line for a remarkable 96%. All UBC head coach Kevin Hanson could say of his star guard’s performance was that it was “an unbelievable performance.”
Saskatchewan continued to stick around however, led entirely by Jamelle Barrett. The fourth quarter was all about Barrett, who scored another 11 points.
“I was going to see if we could sub a sixth guy on to stop [Barrett’s] penetration,” said Hanson. “He was single-handedly keeping them in the game. We tried to double team him but he got through double teams and he got through triple teams.”
However it was not enough in the end. UBC used a 9-2 run to put themselves up 83-74 and the game was never in doubt after that. Adding in UBC’s nearly perfect performance at the line, and the Canada West championship was theirs.
Murphy finished the game with 34 points with Josh Whyte putting in 19 of his own. Not to be outdone, Barrett would finish the game with 35 points alongside of 7 assists. Rejean Chabot also posted 29 of his own and Michael Lieffers finished the game with 15.
Both teams have confirmed their trip to Nationals however. By finishing in the top two, both the T-Birds and Huskies will be heading to Halifax to compete for the National Championship. Seeding for the tournament takes place Sunday night.