The University of Fraser Valley Cascades used their three-point shooting to fuel a third-quarter run and never looked back, beating the UNBC Timberwolves 87-72 Friday night at the Northern Sport Centre.
The third quarter was the story of the game, as UFV came out flying. Jordyn Sekhon sunk a trey and Jaskarn Bajwa nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the first few minutes, while nothing would go for the T-wolves. It resulted in a 13-0 run to start the half, and the Cascades would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
“We came out soft defensively, and they went on a run,” said UNBC guard Vova Pluzhnikov, who shot a game-high 27 points. “They capitalized on our weaknesses. On the offensive end, we couldn’t score for a little bit. That was the difference in the game.”
Anthony Hokanson, along with Pluzhnikov and Laing, would look to answer late in the quarter, drawing the deficit to 12 to end the frame, but that was as close as they’d come.
The visitors from Abbotsford looked the more inspired, energetic team in the early part of the game as guard Vick Toor repeatedly sliced to the basket, scoring eight of UFV’s first 10 points. They stretched the lead early, but Pluzhnikov was a man on a mission himself, answering for the T-wolves with a court-length layup as the quarter ended in a 19-19 deadlock.
The second quarter was more of the same, as the Cascades used their ball movement to give the T-wolves’ defense fits, with a variety of benefactors, including Jaskarn Bajwa and Sukhraj Bains. Tyrell Laing would do some heavy lifting offensively for the home side, getting to the rim and drawing contact on a number of occasions. After 20 minutes the Cascades led 46-42.
“We had a 10-point lead in the first quarter and we gave it away, so we were mad about that,” said Toor. “We came out on a 10-0 run, so we answered really well and held that lead from there.”
Six Cascades scored in double figures, led by a 14-point, nine-assist effort from Toor, and a 12-point, nine -rebound game from Sukhjot Bains. Others reaching double digits were Parm Bains, Matt Cooley, Bajwa, and Sukhraj Bains.
“It’s hard to defend those guys. You have to focus for the entire game,” said Pluzhnikov. “You have to be aware of who you’re defending, who is behind you, who is in front of you. There are a lot of details, but it is definitely hard to play against five shooters.”
Pluzhnikov also had nine rebounds and five assists Tyrell Laing added 18 points, five boards, and four assists, while freshman Fareed Shittu had six points and nine rebounds off the bench. Saymon Loki had a career-high 10 points.
“We were focusing on defense, and we were looking for their zone,” said Toor, postgame. “We knew who their main guys were, and we needed to focus on them. Maybe tomorrow we will do better on them.”
The rematch is set for Saturday at 7 p.m.