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Laing’s 29 not enough as TWolves fall 88-76 to Cascades

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Tyrell Laing scored a season-high 29 points, but it wasn’t enough as the UFV Cascades came to town and held on a for an 88-76 win over the UNBC Timberwolves on Friday, January 28 in Prince George

Early in the first quarter it was the Timberwolves who came out the more intentional team, getting the ball inside the red-hot big man Spencer Ledoux, who rewarded them with two tough buckets to start the game. However, UFV responded quickly, as Jordyn Sekhon took over for a stretch, using his speed and length to get to the cylinder for three consecutive layups as the Cascades took control. Fraser Valley continued to press the issue, with reserve guard Zubair Seyed taking a turn as the focal point on offense, scoring seven points in four minutes. After ten minutes, the Cascades held a 24-16 lead.

“There are times you are not able to knock down shots, and your shooters on the team might go through rough patches,” said UNBC’s Laing. “Your defense has to anchor you and keep you in close ballgames while your offense is struggling.”

In the second frame, UFV continued to utilize their speed in the backcourt to cause turnovers and easy layups at the other end. Vick Toor showed why he is among the best guards in the conference, slashing and creating looks for Kyle Claggett underneath. UNBC was buoyed by senior guard Tyrell Laing, who utilized his unrivaled midrange game, making tough jumper after tough jumper. Fareed Shittu did thrill the home crowd with an incredible slam on a fast-break, but it was the visitors from Abbotsford who held a 49-37 lead at half.

Sekhon led all scorers with 15 points and five boards, while Seyed added 12 points. Laing had 14 points, all in the second quarter, to lead the Timberwolves. Ledoux added nine points and six rebounds.

“They were going to be in drop coverage and allow me to get to the midrange area, which is where I like to operate,” said Laing, postgame. “I was able to knock down a couple threes and get to three-throw line. Just mix it up a little bit.”

UNBC’s struggles at the offensive end continued in the third quarter, as they failed to finish a number of makeable shots to open the half. UFV took full advantage, extending their lead to 21 points at the five minute mark. Laing dug his heels in for UNBC and continued to get to his spots, scoring 10 in the quarter for the TWolves, but UNBC struggled to get much going otherwise. Seyed drove the bus for the Cascades, scoring 11 in the frame on 4-for-5 shooting and UFV led by 22 after 30 minutes.

The Timberwolves made a game of it in the fourth, ramping up their defensive intensity and making buckets at the other end. Vova Pluzhnikov found his stroke, making a pair of three-pointers, while Fareed Shittu blocked three shots to slow the Cascades march to the rim. However, when the lead got down to 10, Jake Willemsen made a big jumper, followed by a Kyle Claggett bunny, and UFV held on the rest of the way, topping the Timberwolves 88-76.

“We had the heart, but careless turnovers allowed them to get comfortable doing what they do. They push the ball in transition and get a lot of easy looks,” said Laing. “At the other end, we had to work pretty hard for ours. They were few and far between.”

Laing was the game’s high scorer, going for a season-high 29 points, to go along with six boards. Pluzhnikov added 19 points, six rebounds, and four assists, while Ledoux chipped in with nine points and nine boards.

Seyed paced the Cascades with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Sekhon went for 19 points. Kyle Claggett muscled his way to 12 points and nine rebounds, while Vick Toor had 12 points and seven assists.

With the win, UFV improves to 6-4, while UNBC falls to 4-8. The teams will finish off their three game season series on Saturday night, 6 p.m. at the Northern Sport Centre.

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