In a battle of Canada West rivals, the UBC Thunderbirds defeated the Alberta Golden Bears 72-65 in consolation semifinal action at the U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8 on Saturday.
After a low-scoring, back-and-forth start, the Golden Bears led 15-14 after the first quarter.
Tyus Jefferson and First Team All-Canadian Brody Clarke with six and five points, respectively, led Alberta, while Mason Bourcier and Grant Audu, off the bench, sparked UBC with seven points apiece.
Both teams shot just more than 30 per cent from the field.
“We only played eight guys last night, so they were pretty beat up and sore,” said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson, referring to their quarterfinal loss to the Dalhousie Tigers.
“You never know how you are going to respond. It is very tough to bounce back and come out to play, but once the competitive juices kick in, we responded.”
“This game was about trying to get experience on the court and in this venue, but still try to win a basketball game,” he added.
Hanson noted every player had time in the first half and an opportunity to contribute.
In the second quarter, the only points of the opening two minutes came on a jumper from Manroop Clair, giving the Thunderbirds a 16-15 edge.
Midway through the second quarter, after a hoop from Lars Ishimwe, the Golden Bears led 21-16.
Ivan Ikomey scored eight points, including consecutive threes, to help Alberta extend to a 31-22 advantage.
After UBC made a 7-1 run to slice the deficit to three points, Ikomey drained another jumper from downtown to make it 35-29.
He added another for Alberta to give his team a 38-31 lead, before his last-second three-point attempt rimmed out at the halftime buzzer.
Ikomey, on 5-for-8 shooting, including four three-pointers, headed to the locker room with 14 points.
In the third quarter, the Thunderbirds scored the first five points, including a three-pointer from Clair and a left-handed drive and lay-up from Second Team All-Canadian Jadon Cohee, to make it 38-36.
The Golden Bears answered with a 7-1 run, keyed by an old-fashioned three-point play from Clarke, to regain an eight-point edge, but Clair meshed six in a row for the Thunderbirds to cut the deficit to two points – 45-43 – midway through the stanza.
On back-to-back hoop-and-harm three-point plays, by Bourcier and Isaiah Familia, the Thunderbirds regained the lead at 49-45.
After Grant Shephard muscled in a bank shot, and Clair landed a last-second turnaround jumper,
UBC extended their edge to double digits – 57-47 – after three quarters, one in which they shot 59 per cent from the field and outscored the Golden Bears 26-9.
In the fourth, on another three-pointer from Ikomey and a base line jumper from Adam Paige, the Golden Bears sliced the Thunderbirds’ lead to 63-56.
After another Clair basket from beyond the arc, UBC led 67-58 with four minutes remaining in the game.
Alberta trimmed the deficit to six points, down the stretch, but Clair helped seal the deal with another three-pointer.
Clair led the Thunderbirds with 23 points and earned top player for the winners. Bourcier finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Audu added 11 points.
Ikomey, the Golden Bears Player of the Game, finished with a team-high 19 points, while Clarke contributed 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Jefferson, with 12, also hit for double digits.
The Thunderbirds will tip off versus the hometown Saint Mary’s Huskies Sunday, at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT, in the consolation final.
Players of the Game
- UBC: Manroop Clair
- Alberta: Ivan Ikomey