NPH Top Performers
- Omid Davani – 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
- Ravi Athwal – 21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 three-point FGs
NEW WESTMINSTER, BC–Can a team be too talented to fail?
Can a team be too talented to be the best in their league?
Not in this case.
With an 81-73 win over the Douglas College Royals Saturday night at Douglas’ New Westminster campus, the Capilano University Blues have locked up first place in the PacWest standings.
They now sit atop the rankings with an almost-unblemished record of 5-1; their only loss coming by way of a 78-77 defeat to Langara in week two.
For all you fantasy GM’s out there, I suggest you try and draft Cap’s starting lineup if possible. Four of the Blues starters posted double-digit scoring numbers: Omid Davani led the way with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists; Rob Hougaard dropped 18 to go along with 11 rebounds; James Lum managed 17 points, six assists and three steals, and Lukas Wera added another 17 points and five boards.
The game was decided in the first quarter, with Cap putting Douglas into a hole that the Royals weren’t able to shoot themselves out of.
“We watched a little bit of video on Douglas and they like to shoot the ball from outside,” said Blues bench boss Jordan Yu. “We didn’t want to get into a shooting battle with them. Fortunately they didn’t shoot great from the three-point line.”
“I mean they took 34, which is crazy.”
Capilano began the night with a 12-4 run in the opening minutes of the first. Second-year Blues point guard Lum thought he was showing up for 40-yard dash time trials, feverishly pushing the ball on every transition.
Cap’s trapping defense forced Douglas into a lot of poor looks early on, and the Royals reliance for offensive results beyond the arc wasn’t treating them too kindly.
The Blues saw themselves up 21-12 after the first frame, and wouldn’t give up the lead for the remainder of the match.
“A lot of the games that I’ve watched so far in this league, because there is talent spread throughout the league, if teams get up early, they seem to hold onto that lead,” said Douglas head coach Denis Beausoleil.
In the second quarter, the Royals made a 13-6 run, capped off by a baby-hook from point guard Aurel David. That shot, along with other tough and contested buckets in the paint, cut the lead to 27-25 with just over five minutes left in the half.
But Capilano assembled a run of their own, finishing the quarter on an 8-2 spurt and boosting the margin to 35-28 at halftime.
At this point the Blues had outrebounded the Royals 29-17, including 14 from the offensive end. The first half also saw Douglas struggle from three-point range, connecting on just three of sixteen from deep.
The third quarter saw two completely different scoring philosophies. While Cap relied on smart ball movement and pounded the ball inside, Douglas continued to launch up an unfathomable amount of treys. Royals 6-8 forward Harpreet Randhawa nailed two back-to-back bombs to start the quarter, but the Blues kept feeding the rock to Davani and Hougaard down low and weathered each Douglas mini-comeback with relative ease.
The final two possessions of the quarter saw Blues guard Keith Nath complete a layup plus the harm, followed by Lum driving coast-to-coast for a bank runner to put the Blues up 58-50 heading into the final stanza.
“I always tell my guys that in close games, always go to the rim or pound it inside,” said Yu. “You at least come up with a foul, get to the foul line. You can earn your buckets that way.”
In the final frame, Douglas continued to try and claw back from the deficit via three-point land, but late-game heroics were absent from the Royals sharpshooting combo of Mity Mahal and Ravi Athwal, who went a combined 5-27 from beyond-the-arc.
“Living and dying by the three, if you’re hitting, it’s a good thing,’ said Yu. “But when you’re not hitting throughout the night, which they weren’t, it’s very detrimental to what they’re trying to do offensively. We’ll live with them shooting outside shots with two minutes left.”
Beausoleil echoed the same conclusion.
“It’s really hard to win when you’re giving up layups and trying to shoot jumpers,” he said. “They had open shooting attempts three feet from the rim, we had challenged shooting attempts 20 feet from the rim. It’s really tough to win that way.”
Athwal had 21 points, seven rebounds and three steals on the night for the Royals, while Malcolm Mensah contributed with 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Despite the Royals shooting woes, Beausoleil recognized that his team struggled on both ends of the court.
“I don’t think that it was our offense,” he said. “We scored 73 points, we didn’t shoot a great percentage, we didn’t hit shots. Sometimes that happens. But our defense was terrible.”
With the loss, Douglas moves down a spot to sixth place in the province. They face an uphill battle in the second half of the season because after two home games in January, they’re slated to go on the road for the remaining four weekends leading up to PacWest playoffs. Capilano, on the other hand, is set to play six straight road games beginning in the New Year.
After last night, each squad heads into the winter break with different objectives for the second half of the 2011-12 campaign: Capilano looks to stay at the top of the rankings, while Douglas plots out a way to get there.
-Both teams had abysmal three-point percentages in the game, Cap going 1-11 and Douglas 9-34.
-Capilano’s four starters in double digits combined for 90 per cent of their total points (73 of 81).
-Beausoleil on the first quarter’s significance: “Cap was up nine points in the first quarter, and we lost by eight.”
-Lum’s six assists were accompanied by six turnovers.
-Douglas’ Malcolm Mensah had three blocks in the game, with each more emphatic than the last. If the shot attempts had been facing the other way, I guarantee you that at least one fan in the fifth row would have a broken nose.