This was the second week of play in the new year, but the first where students were back in class and able to catch some action. UBC climbed two spots in the national CIS rankings after winning on the road twice at Thompson Rivers, while Alberta jumped a pair of spots in RPI with a home sweep against Lethbridge. They're the top team in the country, according to fancy math.
Anyway, there were seven double-header series this week.
Calgary 83 vs. Saskatchewan 79 | Calgary 83 vs. Saskatchewan 90
The Dinos also had a pretty good week, jumping four RPI spots and knocking off the 4th-ranked Huskies at home (who have since fallen to 5th). The Dinos, who got Boris Bakovic back last week, had Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson in the lineup Friday for the first time since November 12. Jackson had a game-high 37 minutes and 21 points, shooting 7-for-17 from the field and hitting two treys.
On Saturday night, Saskatchewan's big-scorer Jamelle Barrett showed up in a way he hadn't in the first half, going 15-for-23 including 4-for-8 for three and scoring a season-high 40 points, also earning 9 assists and 4 steals. The Huskies, after dropping a close decision the night before, rolled over Calgary in the first three quarters. Despite scoring 90 and out-rebounding the Dinos 42-33, not a single member of the Huskies earned a double-double.
Victoria 70 vs. Fraser Valley 79 | Victoria 91 vs. Fraser Valley 67
After losing their first game last week to Saskatchewan, the Vikes split another weekend at home in a pretty good pair of tilts against the UFV Cascades. Joel Friesen and Sam Freeman, as usual, took the bulk of the shots and they were going in, the pair combining for 32 on the night.
Saturday, the tables turned back in the direction of the favourites. Victoria's depth and rebounding prowess shone, as they got 32 points from the bench and out-rebounded the Abbotsford visitors 35-27. Zac Andrus picked up 16. Oddly quiet on the weekend was Ryan Mackinnon, who had been averaging above 20 per game coming into the weekend, putting up just 9 and 15 in the two games.
Thompson Rivers 66 vs. UBC 83 | Thompson Rivers 54 vs. UBC 78
I thought that maybe, at home, TRU could compete in both of these games and perhaps earn a split, but their shooting this weekend was just awful. Not in a "UBC just wasn't giving them any open looks" sort of way, but more of a "everything isn't even going near the hoop" sort of way. The WolfPack shot a total of 30.5% on the weekend. I think I'll blame the gym they were playing in. A high-school wrestling tournament took over the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops so we were relegated to watching this game in our downtrodden campus gym, the former home of the University College of the Cariboo Sun Demons.
On Friday, Doug Plumb put down 23 for the Thunderbirds, whose own shooting misfortunes in the first half kept this game somewhat close, but they eventually pulled away thanks to a couple of daggers from long-range from Malcolm Williams and cruised in the second half. Notable: TRU didn't score a point until there was 4:29 left in the first quarter.
Saturday night's affair was less close. UBC's speed on defense kept the 'Pack from moving the ball. Even worse for the WolfPack is they were without leading scorer Justin King, who appeared to bang his hand (that was already taped up) in Friday's contest. Tommy Nixon had game highs in points (22) rebounds (13) and led the T-Birds to an easier win this time over TRU, leading by 15 points at the half.
Alberta 91 vs. Lethbridge 83 | Alberta 85 vs. Lethbridge 77
Probably two closer games than Alberta would have liked, especially at home, but the Golden Bears earned the sweep despite two more good performances from Dominyc Coward and Daryl Cooper. Coward had 23 points and 12 boards Friday and Cooper had a team-high 24 on Saturday.
Alberta, up by just 3 at the end of the third quarter on Friday, got two early buckets from Lyndon Taylor and Jordan Baker, who had 25 on the night, sealed it with a jumper to put the Bears up by 10 with 2:40 remaining.
Saturday, the score line was closer than the game was, and it was Daniel Ferguson leading the way for the Bears with 26 points, capitalizing on some good team ball-movement allowing Alberta to run over the Pronghorns' suspect defense.
UBC-Okanagan 77 vs. Trinity Western 83 | UBC-Okanagan 56 vs. Trinity Western 83
Also, closer than Trinity would have liked, particularly for a team so dry of wins in the first half of the season. Trinity improved to 6-6 on the year, inching them into a playoff spot, surviving a furious comeback Friday in Kelowna. After leading by 15 with 30 seconds left in the third quarter, UBC-O, led by Simon Pelland and Yassine Ghomari, tied it up with 2:06 remaining. Kyle Coston and Tristan Smith hit foul shots to restore a lead, as the team saw some stingy defense and rebounding from that point on.
Saturday went as Saturday is expected. Fresh off the hotel breakfast, the Langley visitors got 17 from Sean Peter and rebounding down the lineup, using a lot of bench players and, well, taking advantage of the fact that the Heat are a first year team in over their heads against a pretty good Spartans team, apparently.
Brandon 70 vs. Winnipeg 56 | Winnipeg 66 vs. Brandon 61
Brandon had a good chance here to move back to .500 and put themselves in good playoff standing, but provincial rival Wesmen spoiled the party on Saturday with an excellent fourth quarter performance from Brayden Duff, who had 5 points, 2 rebounds, a block and a steal. It was Mark McNee carrying the Wesmen the rest of the way, who won on late free throws (exciting!) after the game was tied late.
On Friday, Brandon got double-doubles from Ali Mounir and Donovan Gayle and rolled with a six-deep bench. Neither team shot particularly well (both under 36%) but the Bobcats took it thanks to eight three-pointers, and the fact that Winnipeg had 19 turnovers.
Manitoba 116 vs. Regina 89 | Manitoba 94 vs. Regina 83
Manitoba's above-average offense turned into an elite offense, and both teams are now at opposite ends of the table in respective "points" and "points allowed" rankings. It's not even that Manitoba shot an outrageously high percentage (53%) on Friday, but they did take an awesome amount of three-point shots (30, scoring on 13 of them). Keith Oliver hit five of those and finished with a game-high 23 points on Friday.
Saturday, Manitoba "only" scored 94 but Oliver again was on his game, hitting four from long-range and racking up 24 points. Now 8-4 and boasting the top offense in the country, having won six straight, are they a contending team? They're 14th in RPI in the nation and 6th in the conference.