The UNBC Timberwolves dug themselves a hole and couldn’t come all the way back, struggling from the field and falling 83-71 to the MRU Cougars on Friday in Calgary.
The TWolves came out cold offensively, making just one of their first 15 shots from the field, falling behind 8-3 in the early going. The UNBC defense was fairly effective, limiting CW leading scorer Holt Tomie, but Todd Jordan’s team’s offense continued to struggle for much of the frame. Tomie would make a pair of late treys, however, and after ten minutes of play, the Cougars held a 23-11 lead, with the Timberwolves shooting 4-for-23 from the field.
Point guard Darren Hunter came out with back-to-back midrange jumpers to get the UNBC attack going, but they had work to do clawing back into the game. MRU freshman Sam Barnie did his part for the Cougars, making a trio of triples to keep UNBC at bay. The Timberwolves offense continued to sputter, with shots they’d normally make good on rimming out from all over the court.
Fareed Shittu had a dunk and three-pointer on consecutive possessions to draw UNBC to within seven points, before Hunter made a contested trey to continue to chip away at the deficit. At the halftime buzzer, the Cougars held a 40-33 lead.
Shittu was UNBC’s leader with nine points and nine rebounds, while Chris Ross had five points and ten boards. Tomie led all scorers with a dozen points, while Barnie and Mawien Mawien each reached double figures.
Hunter came out hot in the third quarter, making a tough bucket inside before burying a three-pointer from 27 feet out, making it a four point game midway through the frame. While their offense was far from its most efficient, the TWolves defence did well to limit much of the MRU attack and found themselves down 55-50 with one quarter to go.
After starting the game 2-for-19, the TWolves finally took their first lead at the 6:10 mark on a Micah Jessie drive and layup. From there, it was a game of hot potato with the elusive momentum that would give either program much breathing room. Tomie made a tough and-one for the Cougars, who rebuilt a moderate seven-point lead, putting the pressure on Jordan’s Timberwolves.
Again, it was Hunter showing his moxie, making another long trey to claw into the deficit with four minutes remaining. MRU clung to a wavering lead as the minutes ticked down, doing just enough to hold off the pesky Timberwolves. Eventually, they’d run out time, and the Cougars would claim an 81-71 victory.
The story of the game for UNBC was their shooting woes, as they made 25 of their 84 shot attempts for a 29.8% rate.
Hunter was the Timberwolves leading scorer with 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting, while Shittu added 14 points and 17 rebounds. Spencer Ledoux chipped in with 11 points and five rebounds. Starting wings Micah Jessie and Chris Ross went a combined 4-for-27 from the field.
Tomie was, predictably, the leader for MRU with 24 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Mawien had 18 points, while Barnie had a career-high 13 points off the bench.
The two teams will clash in part two of the doubleheader on Saturday night in Calgary.
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