NPH Top performers
Ravi Athwal- 35 points, 11 rebounds, (8-13 3P)
- Jacob Thom– 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists
- Richard Townsend Gant- 13 points, 11 rebounds
NEW WESTMINSTER,BC–You could have called it David versus Goliath, a Hoosiers remake, or whatever other overused underdog cliché you want.
Led by third-year forward Ravi Athwal and fourth-year UNBC transfer Harmeet Mahal, the Douglas College Royals upset the Vancouver Island University Mariners 84-68 Friday night at Douglas’ New Westminister campus.
The only problem with calling it an upset? Neither of the teams involved thought of it that way.
“I didn’t by no means come in here thinking we were favoured to win this game,” said VIU bench boss Tony Bryce.
“I knew we’d be in a war and I told my guys if we win this game, it’s gonna be single-digits at best.”
And from the way Douglas dominated the match, it looked as though no one told the Royals roster that they were going up against a team who returned almost all of their players after capturing bronze last year at nationals.
The Royals came out bombing threes, going up 24-12 after one quarter of play and continued their hot shooting in the second, scoring eight unanswered points in less than a minute.
Athwal began to pour in the points, nailing three after three, including a 30-foot heat-check halfway through the quarter.
VIU, led by fifth-year senior and CCAA All-Canadian Jacob Thom, managed to go on a run late in the second frame, cutting Douglas’ lead to 42-30 at the end of the first half.
Both squads shared buckets for the bulk of the second half, but Douglas’ double-digit cushion that they had built in the first quarter, along with VIU’s poor shooting performance, sealed the win for the Royals.
Douglas Head Coach Denis Beausoleil, in his first year at the helm, was more than pleased with his team.
“It’s my first win ever as a head coach in college,” said Beasoleil. “When your athletes play that well it makes your coaching look good, but the athletes achieved that win themselves.
Athwal was the high scorer for Douglas, with 35 points in the victory, including 8 of 13 from beyond the arc, and grabbed 11 rebounds along the way.
For VIU, Thom scored 18 points along with eight rebounds and two assists, while third-year Portland native Richard Townsend Gant posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards.
Vancouver Island now sits at 2-1 in the regular season, and it’s a matter of moving on as they face the Columbia Bible College Bearcats Saturday in the second game of their mainland double-header.
“They [Douglas] were exceptional,” said Bryce.
“But we gotta move on. Our goal is to get a bye and finish in the top two [in the PacWest], and we know it’s not going to be easy. If we want to bye, we got to shake this off and go back and get ‘er done tomorrow.”
And for Douglas, after beating one of the top teams in the province, they feel that there’s still a need to prove themselves as contenders.
“I think the guys have been very confident so far this year about where they stand,” said Beausoleil. “They are trying to carve themselves out a niche within the conference.
“But the guys are hungry to show to themselves, and to myself and to the league, that if they continue to perform this way, that they should become part of the discussion.”