The UNBC Timberwolves knew it was going to take a special effort to beat a program they had never defeated in Canada West play. Saturdy, that is exactly the effort they put forward, as the TWolves beat the UBC Thunderbirds 100-87 in Vancouver.
It was the Thunderbirds jumping out to an early lead, thanks to hot shooting from veteran Triston Matthews who scored eight of UBC’s first 12 points. Micah Jessie answered for the Timberwolves with a three and long two, keeping the game close in the early going. Todd Jordan’s team ramped up the defensive intensity, clamping down on the UBC attack, and taking the lead after a pair of Spencer Ledoux layups and a Chris Ross triple. At the end of the quarter, UNBC led 19-17.
The teams traded the lead back-and-forth early in the second quarter, but UBC gained some breathing room when Canada West All-Star James Woods made three-pointers on consecutive possessions to put the T-Birds up 34-27.
Todd Jordan’s team dug in yet again, making it hard on UBC to find their momentum offensively, as Micah Jessie got to work at the other end. The Seattle product made a big three-pointer, and got to his spot for a midrange jumper, taking on the responsibility of leading threat for the Timberwolves. A Dylon Matthews runner at the buzzer cut it to a three-point game, with UBC holding a 43-40 lead at the half.
To open the third quarter, Jessie continued to be aggressive, earning an and-one and then finding Hunter for a trey on the next possession, as the TWolves carved out a small advantage. A putback dunk by Fareed Shittu gave the Timberwolves a 55-48 lead, the biggest advantage of the game to that point. UBC would battle back, with veterans Tristan Matthews and Brian Wallack making big buckets to the delight of the T-Birds fans at War Memorial Gym. When the ultra-entertaining third quarter came to a close, UNBC held a 67-60 lead.
Jessie continued to be assertive early in the final stanza, hitting a pair of tough jumpers, but Wallack answered with an and-one at the other end for the T-Birds. The fifth-year forward continued to park himself in the paint for UBC, giving the Timberwolves trouble with his mass and finishing ability.
UNBC continued to do enough to hold off the T-Birds, holding a ten-point lead with 3:30 to go against an extremely dangerous UBC program. Every time the Thunderbirds looked to claw into the deficit, the TWolves made a big shot. Eventually, the clock became the TWolves’ ally, and the visitors were happy to work the time down and claim a convincing 100-87 win over UBC.
For the second consecutive game, all five UNBC starters scored in double figures, led by Micah Jessie’s 22 point, seven rebound, five assist performance. Darren Hunter had 19 points and five assists, Spencer Ledoux added 16 points, Chris Ross had 14 points and seven boards, and Shittu had 12 points and nine rebounds. Rookie Justin Sunga added nine points off the bench.
James Woods led UBC with 26 points, while Triston Matthews added 23 points and seven rebounds. Wallack had 19 points and six rebounds.
With the victory, UNBC improves to 2-1, while the T-Birds start the campaign 0-1. The two teams will clash again on Sunday at 4 p.m. in Vancouver.
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