No. 1 T-Birds off to high flying start in 2010
VANCOUVER - The second half of the season for the no. 1 ranked
UBC Thunderbirds (8-0) began much the same as the first - with a
big win at home. The T-Birds defeated the Regina Cougars (4-5)
97-70 at War Memorial on Friday night to remain undefeated on the
"You never really know if you should judge what you did in the month of December on the first game or later on down the road but we are certainly very happy with where we are and how we played tonight," noted UBC head coach Kevin Hanson.
Blain LaBranche led all scorers with 20 points as the T-Birds had four players hit double figures. After missing a few shots early on, LaBranche caught fire against the Regina zone and burned the Cougars from downtown going 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Kamar Burke may have not hit double figures, finishing with only eight points, however, he was a big part of the T-Birds success as he added 12 rebounds, nine assists and four steals.
Hanson was impressed with the third year forward's first game of 2010.
"The production [Burke] gives us at both ends of the floor is a big boost. His defensive rebounding has been one of the keys to us being able to push the ball on offence. He found a lot of guys at the right time tonight with his passing and we took advantage.
As a team the T-Birds were efficient on offence, going 35-of-61 from the field (57.4%) and racking up 25 assists. The Cougars, on the other hand, wilted in the face of a relentless UBC defence.
Jamal Williams led Regina with 18 points and was joined in double figures by Kris Heshka (10), however, as a squad the Cougars shot just 40.6% from the field (28-of-69) which included a 5-of-23 (21.7%) performance from downtown.
UBC opened the game with a 25-8 run, however, Regina responded with an 11-4 spurt of their own and trailed 29-19 early in the second quarter.
The Cougars had the deficit down to nine points at numerous times early in the second frame, however, back to back three-pointers from LaBranche gave UBC 15-point buffer, an advantage they took into the half with a 50-35 lead.
Josh Whyte had a stellar first 20 minutes pacing the high-flying 'Birds, scoring 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and adding five assists.
"I was really happy with the way we started. Josh really took control of the game on the offensive end. He got the right guy the ball and was a true leader in that first quarter," said Hanson.
The T-Birds went to their depth in the second half and increased their lead to 26 after three quarters before closing out the contest ahead 27.
Brent Malish (13) and Kyle Watson (11) also finished in double figures for the T-Birds.
Jeff Lukomski finished the game with just three points for the Cougars, however, that stat line was enough to push his career conference total to 1,000 points.
The T-Birds welcome the Brandon Bobcats (5-6) to War Memorial Saturday night (8:00 p.m.) while Regina travels to Victoria to take on the Vikes (5-3).
UBC Sports Information Director