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Six threes from Chris Ross ignite a UNBC weekend sweep of UBCO

The UNBC Timberwolves men’s basketball program ended 2023 on a positive, albeit tense (at times) note. Saturday in Kelowna, the TWolves (5-3) held off a late surge from the UBC Okanagan (2-6) Heat and secured a 77-72 victory. Fifth-year sharpshooter Chris Ross led the charge for the visitors with 19 points and 11 rebounds. 18 of those points came courtesy of six threes which matched his previous Canada West best. Evgeny Baukin chimed in with 17 points while Justin Sunga added 10 points, five assists and seven rebounds. Jalen Shirley finished with a game-high 24 points for UBC Okanagan while Jas Dhudwal pulled down 12 rebounds. The biggest lead of the night for UNBC was 26 points.

Less than 24 hours removed from a 94-66 victory, Todd Jordan’s club wasted little time in putting their pedal back down to the metal. UNBC kicked off the game with a 10-0 run which was highlighted by a Chris Ross triple off a smooth inbound transition from the UNBC side of the floor. After the Heat posted their first basket of the quarter, UNBC then answered with a 12-0 run en route to a 27-11 first quarter lead. Chris Ross notched two of UNBC’s four first quarter treys while Evgeny Baukin and Darren Hunter added the others. Ross and Baukin each had seven points while defensively UNBC held the Heat to just 3/20 from the field.

Evgeny Baukin added eight more points to his ledger in the second quarter on 4/7 shooting. The versatile Russian would lead all scorers with 15 points through the opening half of play as UNBC outscored UBCO 27-21 on their way to a 54-32 halftime edge. Justin Sunga was the TWolves leader on the glass as he pulled down six total boards – three offensive, three defensive. Sunga and Baukin each added three assists to their first half totals. On the other side, UBCO’s offensive leader was Jalen Shirley who recorded 10 points on 4/8 shooting.

The UBCO comeback bid intensified in the third as the Heat outscored the TWolves 19-13. There was a 13-3 run on offense for UBCO which got their deficit back to within 13. But Chris Ross answered with back-to-back triples. In total, he drained four threes in the quarter and led UNBC with 19 points. Ross’ six threes matched his previous career best in Canada West which he accomplished on January 14, 2023 against Victoria. Ross’ heroics from deep helped UNBC took a 67-51 lead into the final quarter. Leon Schenker supplied seven of UBCO’s 19 third quarter points.

UBCO kept chipping way and certainly provided some nervous moments for UNBC in the final quarter. Jalen Shirley shot 4/6 for Heat and contributed 10 points of the 21 total for the home side who managed to get the game to within a single point in the waning moments of the quarter. Thankfully the Mountain Spencer Ledoux supplied a clutch bucket from down low to make the score a 75-72 lead for UNBC. UBCO’s leading scorer Gavin Ashworth had two clean looks from three to try and tie the game, but came up short. Those two misses, combined with a clutch steal from Evgeny Baukin forced the Heat to foul UNBC with under 15 seconds remaining. Josh Gillespie then cemented the victory for the TWolves by drilling both of his free throws, and when the dust settled UNBC had a 77-72 victory and a 5-3 record.

Chris Ross was the offensive and defensive leader on Saturday for the TWolves as he finished with a team-best 19 points and 11 rebounds. That double-double effort combined with his six successful threes, three assists and one steal made him the Earls Road Warrior of the Game.

UNBC will now head into their exam/holiday break with a 5-3 record, and have a chance to secure their third consecutive victory when they return to the friendly confines of the Northern Sports Centre on Friday, January 5against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. Tip off goes at 8 p.m.

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