UNBC falls to T-birds in return from Canada West

Timberwolves cling to Canada West’s best to return to action Sunday afternoon

After nearly two months between games, the UNBC Timberwolves men’s basketball troops teeed off Sunday afternoon at the Northern Sport Centre.

And no better opponent than the undefeated UBC Thunderbirds to get the game going again.

Success seems to follow the T-birds wherever they go, whatever the season – it’s an unbreakable habit for one of the most successful programs in the 50-year history of Canada West Conference college sports. With 10 wins to go for their 10 games so far this season before Prince George, the No. 5 ranked team in Canada was the perfect gauge to measure how far the T-wolves have progressed since the start of the season at the beginning of November.

Both teams were missing a few key cogs in the roster, either due to COVID concerns or boundary issues and, surprisingly enough, for the entire first half UNBC showed no signs of rust. , keeping a game to one possession while matching the T-birds step by step.

This is not the case in the third trimester. Not with Grant Audu doing magic on the pitch. Toronto’s fourth-year guard single-handedly played the destructive role and scored nine of his team’s 29 points in the third quarter for a 67-52 lead.

Once they smelled the blood, nothing could stop the T-birds, who improved to 11-0 with a 93-74 victory, their third victory this season at the NSC.

“Both teams had lost a few guys and obviously that changes the dynamics of both teams quite a bit, but I think for the next few weeks COVID is going to impact a lot of teams whether they’re training or are eligible to play, said UBC head coach Kevin Brown.

“Our guys were excited to play a game and they did some really good things and (the T-wolves) played really hard and did some good things, and our defense wasn’t where it was supposed to be. to be. When things aren’t going well, you need your experienced guys to play well, and Audu had a great third quarter.

Audu led the T-bird cause with 22 points and James Woods finished with 21, each contributing a line of threes. Spencer Ledoux had a team-high 18 points for UNBC while Tyrell Laing had 16 and had seven assists, using Ledoux as his primary target. Laing had 11 points in the first half but was unable to maintain his usual searing pace.

With UNBC guard Vova Pluzhnikov at the end of his self-isolation period after testing positive for COVID, Peyton Tirrell has been stuck at home in Washington state due to flight delays, and Rory Godwin and David Tiessen were also sidelined, sophomore guard Darren Hunter made his first start for UNBC and wing Chris Ross played all 40 minutes of the game except 92 seconds.

“With only seven or eight guys in the rotation, we were kind of gassed,” said Hunter, who had nine points. “I was happy to have my first start but, sad circumstances, I prefer to take it in a different way and deserve it myself. I can’t say that I was happy with the way I played, but happy that I played a lot. We sort of crumbled in that third quarter.

COVID-related issues plagued the T-wolves’ camp during the seven-week long hiatus and the diversion of finally being able to play again reminded them of the thrill of playing college basketball.

“It’s a bit of a break from the norm,” said Ross, who had 10 points. “The last three weeks have been crazy for us with all the COVID situations and so many guys away so it was just great to get out there and play. I played a lot of minutes and it was fun but I definitely missed the teammates.

“We worked a lot with our attack and I felt I had a good rhythm and we came in with some defensive intensity. We tied them for the first minute of the second half and then it was just a combination of energy and intensity and they kept rolling the guys and we didn’t have the pace for them to follow.

The T-birds were missing six-foot-10 starting tackle Sukhman Sandhu, a 56 percent three-point shooter, and fourth-year guard Triston Matthews, both at home observing COVID protocols. It gave Woods, Brian Wallack, Jack Cruz-Dumont, Lincoln Rosebush, Esaie Maurancy and Kyle Foreman more time and their efforts to pressure the T-wolves led to converted turnovers in 21 of UBC’s 93 points.

“The big difference in the game is that we lost a few guys and it’s a pretty deep team and I think we just ran out of fuel late in the game,” the Ts head coach said. -wolves, Todd Jordan. “I’m still quite proud of the guys. I think you had a lot of positive things against a quality opponent. When we performed our stuff, got the ball where we wanted, we were able to score with them.

The T-wolves’ record fell to 2-7 and they have now lost five games in a row. Three of their losses have been against UBC and two against Victoria, ranked eighth in Canada. They’ll look to turn the tide this weekend when they travel to Kelowna to take on the UBC-Okanagan Heat (1-7).

The UNBC women, who lost 77-66 to the Kelowna Heat on Saturday, will also be there for two games this weekend.

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