The UBC Thunderbirds extended their winning streak to 13 games with a 78-63 victory over the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack (4-8) to maintain a perfect 9-0 record at War Memorial Gym this season.
Grant Audu went six-for-eight from beyond the arc and had a game-high 24 points with eight boards, while Sukhman Sandhu had 13 points with nine rebounds and James Woods totaled 12 points with four rebounds in the Brave win.
“It’s so hard to play back-to-back teams,” UBC head coach says Kevin Hanson following the release of the WolfPack to close out the Canada West series. “Sometimes there’s a certain complacency when you beat a team on the first night, no matter how hard you pump them and drive them forward, and TRU wasn’t going to shoot the ball that badly two nights in a row. They got it. shot better, but our defense was softer and we weren’t as intense as last night. In the first half we just weren’t scoring and it seemed to frustrate us at the other end of the pitch. I thought that ‘there was no flow for tonight’s game – there were so many free throws and not much coming and going on the pitch – so it was tough We played twelve players in the first half and sometimes you lose a bit of fluidity when guys play different roles, in the second half we shortened the bench to allow some guys to run together and I think that paid off It was tough but we we are happy to have won the victory.
Brendan Sullivan had a team-high 20 points with four threes and four rebounds in the loss and Asher Mayan had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards for the WolfPack as the visitors tied UBC with six steals but passed the ‘Birds with 14 turnover points.
Richard Mageto went three for three from the floor to start the first for TRU but the ‘Birds followed suit and a deep Sandhu three made it 19-7 before Tony Maric dropped his own triple at 24-9. Daniel Bost made it a 10-point game with three down and the T-Birds led 24-14 after the first.
Audu knocked down a three at 27-16 UBC early in the second quarter before Sullivan answered with a triple to hold the 10-point lead at 31-21 with just under six minutes left in the half. Simon Crossfield cut it to seven with a layup for TRU and Sullivan brought the WolfPack to within four with his second three as the T-Birds held a 34-29 halftime lead.
Sandhu and Audu drained three runs to extend UBC’s lead to 42-31 in the third before Sullivan hit a triple at 44-34. Jack Cruz Dumont found Woods for three and finished on the edge for a 49-34 advantage, but Sullivan hit his second three of the quarter at 49-37 and Mayan cut the deficit to single digits with a three at 49-40. UBC rebounded with an 8-0 streak late in the third and closed out the quarter with a 59-43 lead.
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Audu hit 21 points midway through the fourth quarter on a solid hold on the rim at 68-58 and the ‘Birds went on the 15-point win.
“It was our twelfth or thirteenth day in a row, so guys are looking forward to a few days off,” Hanson said as the T-Birds now have a bye week away from conference play. “It gives us a chance to refocus. In terms of the schedule, there’s still a lot to decide for the next two months, so we’re focused on getting better and better every week.”
UBC will resume its Canada West regular season on the road against the University of Victoria Vikes on February 4-5, while TRU will return home for a series with the Vikes on January 28-29 in Kamloops.