Abbotsford – The UFV Cascades men’s basketball team (17-5) extracted another win from the TWU Spartans (10-12) tonight by a score of 83-78. The Cascades have now won 14 straight since the run began on November 29, 2013, taking a season that started as a mediocre 3-5 and turning it into something special. UFV will face the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns in next week’s Canada West quarterfinals. The Spartans are not in playoff contention.
A remarkable game from the first play, tonight’s contest felt more like a post-season battle than an exercise between two teams with their playoff futures already decided. The Spartans outrebounded the Cascades by an astonishing 42-30 with the margin and more provided by TWU’s Denny McDonald (30 points and 14 rebounds). It was a brutal, physical game, as evidenced by the 42 personal fouls shared almost evenly between the two teams.
The Cascades two departing seniors, Klaus Figueredo and Jasper Moedt, were honoured in a ceremony before the game. Coach Adam Friesen further showed his appreciation (and perhaps the imminence of playoffs) by giving the two Cascade stalwarts much of the night off – Figueredo played only 26 minutes while Moedt was given a luxurious 17. The resulting gap was filled by rookie forward Hudson Simon (two blocks, four rebounds) and sophomore Gurminder Kang (one block, three rebounds), who played the end of the third and most of the fourth quarters.
With UFV’s usual point-producers on the bench, and TWU twisting the screws with a ferocious full-court press, other Cascades rose to the occasion. Aaron McGowan went 3-3 from downtown on his way to 15 points, while Amrit Gill had 12 points, tying a personal high from that same Nov. 29 game against the UBC Thunderbirds that began the Cascades’ run.
Apart from McDonald, the Spartans received 18 points from Justin Bakuteka and 13 from Anthony Ottley. The Spartans managed 19 assists to the Cascades’ 24, and trailed by only a single point in the fourth minute of the fourth quarter. Indeed, without the Cascades 44.4 three-point percentage (compared to the Spartan’s 9.5 percent from the same range), TWU would very likely have grabbed the win and achieved an even .500 record on the season.
“Some people have questioned our depth this year,” said Cascades assistant coach Kyle Graves, “considering the minutes our starters play, but the whole team contributed to this win and it’s just a great way to finish off the regular season. Fourteen straight wins is a tough thing to accomplish and now we’re on our way to bigger and better things in the playoffs.”
The Cascades begin a best-of-three playoff series this Thursday (Feb 20) against the Lethbridge Pronghorns at the Envision Athletic Centre. Tipoff will be at 7 pm, and games will continue at the same time on Friday and Saturday as needed. Watch the game online at canadawest.tv