It was a win they needed desperately. On the road, in the midst of a losing streak with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, UNBC Men’s Basketball dug deep and pulled out a 96-85 victory over the Mount Royal University Cougars on Saturday in Calgary.
The Timberwolves and Cougars came out trading three-pointers, as Micah Jessie and Chris Ross splashed triples early for UNBC. It was a welcome sign for Todd Jordan’s program that converted just 29.8% of their shots from the field a night prior. The Cougars matched them shot for shot, however, jumping out to a 14-9 lead in the early going.
Spencer Ledoux made his presence felt with eight points in the opening frame, but it was MRU holding a 26-23 advantage after ten minutes.
In the second, freshman Evgeny Baukin showed why he has a tantalizing future in the Canada West. The Moscow product blocked two shots at the rim at the defensive end before making a baseline three at the other, thrilling his UNBC teammates. However, whenever the Timberwolves looked to gather momentum, Mount Royal did well to put a halt to it. Daniel Owoeye and Hunter Boriskewich each made baskets, and MRU led 36-30 at the midway mark of the quarter.
Dylon Matthews would come off the bench and make a big three before finding Ledoux for a buzzer-beating layup and the TWolves were down just 43-41 at halftime. The Kamloops big man led all scorers with 12 points, while Jessie, Ross, and Baukin all had seven.
The teams traded baskets much of the third quarter, as Ledoux continued to get to his spots for UNBC, and Canada West second-leading scorer Holt Tomie asserting himself for the Cougars. With Fareed Shittu glued to the bench with foul trouble, Baukin continued to play big minutes for Todd Jordan, showing well for himself in an elevated role.
Keivonte Watts made a pair of tough jumpers to buoy the MRU attack, as the Cougars and TWolves traded leads a number of times as the quarter wound down. UNBC held a 70-67 lead with one quarter to play.
First-year guard Justin Sunga was strong early in the fourth, making a tough bucket and finding Hunter and Ledoux for baskets of their own, as UNBC held a 79-75 advantage at the six minute mark. Watts continued his excellent play, slicing and dicing to the hoop, especially without the rim protection of Shittu on the court.
Micah Jessie made a pair of tough finishes, Ledoux got a reverse layup to go, and Baukin had a fastbreak slam to stretch the UNBC lead to nine with three minutes remaining, giving Todd Jordan’s team some marginal breathing room. Eventually, MRU would run out of time and the TWolves would claim a 96-85 victory.
Ledoux finished the game with 26 points, to go along with six boards, three assists, and a block. Hunter was dynamic offensively for the second consecutive night, scoring 18 points, while Jessie added 14 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. Baukin had 13 points off the bench, while Sunga broke a UNBC freshman record, and tied a UNBC program record, with 10 assists to go along with his nine points.
Watts paced the Cougars with 22 points and seven assists, while Tomie added 18 points and six helpers. Mawien Mawien had a ten point, ten rebound double double.
The win moves UNBC to 6-10 on the season. They now travel back to Prince George and get set to host the TRU WolfPack in their final home series of the season next weekend.
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