TWU: Jacob Doerksen— 30 points, 12 rebounds, NPH #5-ranked CIS player
Saskatchewan: Jamelle Barrett—20 points, 16 assists, NPH #1-ranked CIS Player
VANCOUVER, BC–When two teams are as evenly matched as the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and the Trinity Western University Spartans are, you would expect nothing but a classic when they met Friday night at UBC’s War Memorial Gym. And oh what a game it was, with the Huskies coming away with an 80-78 win to set up a re-match of last year’s Canada West finals against the UBC Thunderbirds.
The two teams split two tightly contested matches during the season. TWU defeated Saskatchewan 102-91 the first night and Saskatchewan returned the favor by beating the Spartans 101-93.
The first quarter was more of a feeling out process, with each team missing shots and unable to come away with a definitive advantage. The Spartans did lead by six, 22-16, however 2008/09 Canada West Most Valuable Player, NPH #4-ranked Jacob Doerksen, scored nine points in the opening frame but picked up two fouls in the process. Calvin Westbrook and Tristan Smith each contributed with 10 and eight points respectively. The Huskies were led in scoring, not by their potent one-two punch of fifth year guard Rejean Chabot and 2010/11 Canada West MVP Barrett, but by forward Michael Lieffers, who had six points in the opening frame. Barrett managed to score five points and Chabot two.
Nursing a six-point lead going into the second quarter, TWU head coach Scott Allen, took a bold move and sat Doerksen for the entire quarter, not wanting his star big man to pick up his third foul. The move did not help the Spartans offensively however, as they only managed to score 15 points during the second quarter. The Huskies used this and were able to close the gap on the Spartans, ending the half trailing 37-36.
The Spartans started the second half a lot better than they ended the first. With Doerksen back in the game, TWU hit their first 3 of 4 shots. TWU controlled for what seemed to be the majority of the game, even leading by as many as 13 points at one point. However they were never able to pull ahead as Jamelle Barrett continued to drive to the hole and dish to open teammates for easy scores. Saskatchewan was down, but they were not quite out, trailing 63-58 going into the final stanza.
The Spartans dominated the first five minutes of the fourth quarter. They were hitting their shots, while defending and rebounding well. Doerksen shot 6-for-9 from 3-point range and finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds. Tyrell Mara also had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and was essential in shutting down Chabot who finished the game with only 8 points on 4-for-19 shooting.
With a little over five minutes left, and the Spartans up by 11 it was safe to say that the Trinity would be competing in the main event of Saturday’s Canada West Finals, but the Huskies had other things in mind. With Doerksen, Mara and Kyle Coston in foul trouble, the Huskies began attacking, turning every missed shot into a running opportunity. The 11-point lead that the Spartans enjoyed was gone with a minute left as Saskatchewan tied the game with one minute left to play as the Spartans scored only a single point over the final 5:30.
The final minute saw both teams frantically attempt to score, with neither team succeeding until the end. With the game in his hands Jamelle Barrett showed why he is the MVP by giving the Huskies an 80-78 lead with a soft floater while driving down the left lane with 1.8 seconds remaining. Barrett, who did struggle during the game going 6-for-23 from the field, finished with 20 points and 16 assists.
TWU had one last crack at sending the game to overtime, but it was not meant to be. The Spartans did in fact get a shot off, but Doerksen’s lay-up, which rolled along the rim of the basket for what seemed to be an eternity, was knocked out by Michael Lieffers. This led to an uproar by the Spartan supporters who thought the act to be an illegal goaltend. However, according to the FIBA rules, article 31.2.3 states that, “Goaltending Restrictions Apply Until: the ball no longer has the possibility of entering the net or when the ball has touched the ring.” With this in mind the correct call was made, and it was indeed no basket.
Saskatchewan interim head coach Greg Jockims said, “We just had to bear down and get some stops… I thought our guys did a great job rebounding the ball and not giving them second chances down the stretch there, which was really critical.”
“Jamelle Barret was Player of the Year,” said Scott Allen. “He took over the game and made some big shots… It was the undisciplined play of us. But this will make us better for tomorrow,” he concluded.
TWU will play for the Bronze medal and to all but guarantee themselves a spot at nationals with a win over the University of Alberta Golden Bears at 6:00 p.m. Saturday night. Saskatchewan, as mentioned, will play for the Canada West Championship against UBC. That game tips off at 8:00 p.m.
PHOTO COURTESY: THE PROVINCE