Huge first quarter helps T-Birds clinch first in Canada West
VANCOUVER - After struggling out of the gate in their past few
games, the UBC Thunderbirds came out swinging against Victoria on
Saturday, outscoring the Vikes 30-2 in the first quarter en route
to a 90-41 win at War Memorial Gym.
Jeff Cullen's basket with 8:59 on the clock in the first quarter got Victoria on the board, making the score 3-2 UBC at the time. It would be almost 10 minutes before the Vikes scored again, and more than 16 minutes before their next field goal, as the T-Birds smothered the Vikes defensively in the early going.
Slow starts had been plaguing the T-Birds in recent weeks, leading head coach Kevin Hanson to try a different starting line-up on Saturday night.
"It certainly wasn't to discipline anybody, but just trying to change the look," said Hanson. "Sometimes guys get a chance to start and they get excited about playing, and the guys who didn't get to start want to come out and prove you wrong. You look at the score and say 'yeah, that was a good move to make,' but give the guys on the floor credit. They came out and played a great first quarter."
Point guard Alex Murphy was one of the players who benefited from the line-up changes by getting a start on Saturday. He finished with seven assists and six rebounds, and Hanson enjoyed the chemistry between him and fellow guard Josh Whyte, who finished with a game-high 28 points.
"Alex is getting better and better right now, and he certainly relieves pressure," said Hanson. "Josh doesn't have to defend a point guard and get tired, and we don't have to rely on his scoring all the time. It gives him a chance to relax and get involved in the game."
The T-Birds went on a 28-0 run to close out the first quarter, and also had a big third quarter, outscoring the Vikes 33-16. They held Victoria to 17.6 per cent shooting on the night.
Kamar Burke had another double-double for UBC, finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Zac Andrus led Victoria with 12 points.
At 16-1, the T-Birds have clinched first in both the Pacific Division and in Canada West overall, guaranteeing them home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Meanwhile the Vikes fall to 8-9, and will need a win in their final game plus a Trinity Western loss to make the playoffs.
The Vikes play Simon Fraser next week, while Trinity Western will be at UBC on Saturday, February 13. Tip-off is 8 p.m. at War Memorial Gym.
UBC Sports Information