Thunderbirds too deep for Cascades to overcome




Top Performers:

UVF – Joel Friesen 21 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists

UBC – Josh Whyte 21 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 assists


Vancouver, BC – Give the Fraser Valley Cascades credit for hanging with the number two ranked team in the country. Going into half time, UFV trailed the T-birds by just seven points, 41-34.


It wasn’t until late in the game that UBC finally began to assert their dominance on a very frustrated team from Abbotsford. The 84-68 win for the Thunderbirds improved their record to 7-2 this season, but the score was not indicative of the overall game.


UFV’s Joel Friesen started the game by hitting a three pointer just under a minute in, and had eight of the Cascades 19 points in the first quarter. Friesen would continue to wreak havoc on UBC for much of the game en route to a game-high 21 points, including 12 from three point range.


“We lost him a couple times when guys were penetrating and he was on the weak side, so we were helping off him just a little too much, but at the same time we made a commitment to ourselves about stopping that penetration regardless of who’s out there,” said UBC coach, Kevin Hanson.


At the end of the first quarter the Cascades were leading the Thunderbirds 19-16 and playing with confidence.


“They really do a good job of trying to break you down off the dribble. That’s what their offense is predicated to is to penetrate, make somebody help you and then find those open guys,” said Hanson.


In the second quarter the tides turned in UBC’s favour thanks to Melvyn Mayott and Josh Whyte. The two combined for 17 points in the second quarter to put UBC ahead at the break. The Thunderbirds would retain that lead the rest of the way.


“Credit them, I think they’ve got maybe five fourth years and maybe three fifth years and they’re very veteran and when they get a lead late in a game it’s going to be tough going,” said UFV coach, Barnaby Craddock.


The T-birds came out of the break playing a much higher tempo game and really pressured the UFV offense leading to several turnovers and some easy fast break points.


“In the third quarter we got out on the break and had nine transition opportunities and that was stemming from our defence. If we were able to do that and get deflections and get some defensive rebounds and push the transition, it puts them on their heels a little bit,” said Hanson.


UBC would score 21 points on fast break chances in the game.


As the tempo of the game picked up so did the Cascades long range shooting. The team scored five times from beyond the arc in the third quarter to help UFV keep pace on the scoreboard. But the speed of the game caught up with them in the final frame and UBC took full advantage, widening their lead to 16 by the final buzzer.


In the end it was UBC’s depth that was the Cascades’ undoing. The Thunderbirds got scoring from all ten players that touched the floor with all but one contributing more than 10 minutes. That left the T-birds fresher down the stretch. Fifth year guard, Josh Whyte ended the game matching Friesen’s game-high 21 points but added four steals and six rebounds in 25 minutes of playing time.


Meanwhile, the Cascades relied heavily on their starters and got just nine points from their bench.


 “We’ll go back and try to regroup and do a few things better than we did tonight. We’ll have to take away some of the easy baskets they got in transition, particularly in the third quarter. We’ll have to play with a bit more composure down the stretch. I think they’re a very veteran and composed team and as the game got tight late they took advantage of those two things. At the end of the day they’re the number two ranked team in the country in their own gym. We came, we battled them hard but they’re a little bit better than us tonight,” said Craddock.



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