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Gillespie’s record-setting night propels Timberwolves to victory over Horns

Harsh Banga photo

Saturday night at the Northern Sport Centre, the UNBC Timberwolves men (6-4) bounced back from a narrow Friday loss with a spirited 80-78 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Pronghorns (1-11). Josh Gillespie secured his second double-double in as many games with a 12 point, 13 rebound, seven block stat line. He was aided by Chris Ross’ 16 points, and six rebounds. Spencer Ledoux (18), Justin Sunga (17) and Evgeny Baukin (10) also supplied clutch offense for the TWolves who came away with a well-deserved split with the scrappy Pronghorns. Lethbridge got a phenomenal performance from Jack-Henry Fox-Grey who led all scorers Saturday with 32 points along with 11 rebounds. Kymani Pollard added 17 for the visitors.  

A motivated Josh Gillespie came out firing in the opening 10 minutes for the hosts. The third-year Idaho product recorded 12 of UNBC’s 23 points and did so on five-of-eight shooting. Gillespie also snagged two rebounds and two blocks. Chris Ross added a pair of threes while Evgeny Baukin returned to the lineup off the bench and supplied a triple. Lethbridge, fresh off their first win of the season a night ago,  shared the ball evenly, and had six points from star Kymani Pollard along with four apiece from Shae Gibb, Lemieux, Jack-Henry Fox-Grey. The score was 23-18 UNBC after 10. 

The plucky Pronghorns forced their way back to evens in the early minutes of the second quarter thanks to a timely three from Brady Baines. Shortly thereafter they took the lead thanks to a pair of successful Shae Gibb jumpers. But UNBC responded with a 6-0 run of their own thanks to back-to-back makes from Spencer Ledoux, and an emotional slam dunk from Evgeny Baukin! Late buckets from Chris Ross and Will Keyes helped move the TWolves ahead by a 47-43 score. Josh Gillespie led all TWolves with 12 points at the half while Jack-Henry Fox-Grey was the clear point leader for Lethbridge having notched 17 points (6/12 FG) and five rebounds. 

Spencer Ledoux hit a pair of shots from in close in the opening minutes of the third to push UNBC’s lead to 53-47. Ledoux started his evening going six-for-six before his first miss. Defensively Todd Jordan’s club were full marks in the early moments of the third as Will Keyes and Josh Gillespie produced big blocks that got the NSC crowd riled up. Shortly thereafter, the TWolves went on a 9-0 run which was highlighted by a Justin Sunga crossover layup and a triple from Chris Ross. Lethbridge guard Shae Gibb hit a tough reverse layup to end the run. The score read 63-56 for the hosts after three quarters. 

Jack-Henry Fox-Grey recorded seven points in the first three minutes of the final quarter for Lethbridge to keep them within striking distance. By the three-minute mark of the fourth, Fox-Grey was sitting at 28 points. Spencer Ledoux countered with back-to-back layups and Justin Sunga added four points to keep the hosts in the lead. Jack-Henry Fox-Grey hit two free-throws to arrive at the 30-point mark, and in the process moved his team back within one. Their next trip down the floor, Kymani Pollard hit a difficult layup to push Lethbridge ahead briefly, but Justin Sunga responded with a floater to regain the lead for UNBC.  

Jack-Henry Fox-Grey etched two more points to his ledger with successful free-throws, tying the score at 76-76, but once again fast to respond was Justin Sunga who hit a tough jumper to make it a two-point lead for UNBC. Then Darren Hunter provided a bit of breathing room when he converted on two free-throws. That little extra breathing room would prove important as Kymani Pollard hit two of his own the next trip down the floor which left the score 80-78 for the TWolves. 

With 5.3 ticks left on the clock, Lethbridge had one final look to tie the game, but Jack-Henry Fox-Grey’s final attempt in close was unsuccessful, and UNBC was able to celebrate the split, exacting a measure of revenge after suffering a narrow defeat a night prior. 

A major factor in the TWolves success Saturday – Blocks. Josh Gillespie alone had seven while Will Keyes (2), Evgeny Baukin. Spencer Ledoux and Darren Hunter joined the block party. Conversely, Lethbridge only managed one block on the night. 

The Mr. Mike’s Player of the Game honour was awarded to veteran guard Chris Ross who finished the night with 16 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal while playing consistent, tenacious defense.  

Next up for UNBC – A trek East to Regina to battle the Cougars on Friday and Saturday.  

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