NPH TOP PERFORMERS
- Nathan Yu– 17 points, 3 assists, 5 steals
- Kamar Burke– 13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
- Tommy Nixon– 10 points
- Simon Pelland- 14 points, 4 rebounds
PHOTO COURTESY: UBC ATHLETICS
VANCOUVER, BC–A relentless defensive effort from the No. 3 UBC Thunderbirds earned them a big win and an impressive milestone for head coach Kevin Hanson, who picked up his 300th win as coach of the ‘Birds with a 77-43 victory over the UBC Okanagan Heat on Friday at War Memorial Gym.
After UBC jumped out to a 23-8 lead, the Heat showed they weren’t to be taken lightly with an 8-0 run to close out the first quarter, capped off by an emphatic jam from Simon Pelland. That turned out to be the only offensive highlight for the visitors though, as they were held to 22 per cent field goal shooting on the night and turned the ball over 23 times.
The T-Birds stole the ball 17 times, including five from Nathan Yu, and blocked five Heat shots.
“One of the things we’re focusing on is just getting continuously better defensively, and I think the numbers we put up today were indicative of how we played,” said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson.
“Still had a few let-ups, and sometimes you’re so focused on what you have to do defensively you forget a bit about the offensive end, but really happy with the defensive effort and everyone that came in off the bench played their role, knew the scouting report well and stuck to the defensive game plan like glue.”
The bench also produced offensively for UBC, chipping in 33 points. Nakai Luyken led the way with nine points and five boards off the bench.
“Any time you get 12 guys into a Canada West game it can only benefit you,” said Hanson. “We’re going to lose four seniors next year so those young guys have to be ready to come in and play for us.”
Kamar Burke had another double double with 13 points and 10 boards for UBC. He also had a monster jam through contact early in the third when the UBC lead was just 13 points, setting the tone for a T-Bird-dominated second half.
Yu led the team with 17 points, and Tommy Nixon chipped in 10. It wasn’t a flawless performance offensively for the ‘Birds, as they turned the ball over 18 times and shot under 40 per cent in the first half, but they picked it up in the second, shooting 57 per cent from the field and controlling the paint.
“You could see before the game they were fired up for this one and Okanagan battled real hard and make us work for everything we scored today. I just think our size and physical strength wore them down,” said Hanson.
The Heat’s top offensive weapon, Yassine Ghomari, was held to seven points on 2-10 shooting.
Pelland had 10 points at half time but foul trouble limited his minnutes in the second half, and he finished with just 14, though he still led the team in scoring.
UBC improves to 11-2 on the year, while the Heat fall to 2-11. The teams wrap up their series on tonight at War Memorial Gym. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.