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Career night from Chris Ross powers UNBC to a 19-point victory over nationally-ranked Thunderbirds

Friday night at the Northern Sport Centre the UNBC Timberwolves men (7-6) returned to the win column with a spirited 19-point, 88-69 victory over the nationally ranked UBC Thunderbirds (10-5). Veteran Chris Ross reached a new career high with 28 points and matched a previous career best with six successful threes. He added 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks while Josh Gillespie complimented that performance with 17 points and 15 rebounds. James Woods (19), Micah Jessie (17) and Fareed Shittu (12) reached double-digits in response for UBC who have now dropped two decisions to UNBC in as many seasons.

The UBC Thunderbirds began the game with a 17-7 run. Micah Jessie (8) and James Woods (5) had 13 of those 17. Five of the first seven points for UNBC came from Evgeny Baukin who hit a three, and an impressive layup in traffic that came off a slick feed from Justin Sunga. Sunga then nailed a deep three to move the score to 18-12. A few plays later, Evgeny Baukin would later push his first quarter point totals to seven when he cut to the net hard and converted on the lay-up. A late Tobi Akinkunmi three restored momentum for UBC, pushing their lead to 23-14 which is how the quarter would end. Defensively Josh Gillespie and Tobi Akinkunmi had four rebounds apiece.

Chris Ross went nuclear for UNBC in the second quarter. The fifth-year veteran from North Vancouver recorded 13 points and helped spark his squad to a 25-7 run to start the quarter, and an eventual 41-34 half-time lead. Ross opened the quarter with an elbow three and then hit another near the three-minute mark to push his team back within two points at 28-26. Spencer Ledoux then tied the score with a spinning layup, and Josh Gillespie (2) and Chris Ross then supplied layups of their own to push UNBC up 34-28. Five more points from Ross and four from Gillespie rounded out the scoring in the second for the hosts while James Woods (5) and Arnaud Konan (4) combined for nine of the 11 UBC points. At half Josh Gillespie had 10 points and 10 rebounds for UNBC while James Woods led UBC with 10 points.

Group Five 2024 vs UBC

The first three points of the third quarter? Chris Ross. Another elbow three from the left side pushed UNBC ahead 44-34. James Woods promptly responded with a silky layup for UBC. Woods (3), Micah Jessie (4) and Fareed Shittu (6) combined for 13 early points as UBC started the third on a 13-6 run, tying the score at 47-47. UBC would ultimately outscore UNBC 26-19 on the strength of nine points from both Woods and Jessie and eight from Shittu. Darren Hunter, Spencer Ledoux and Chris Ross each answered with five for UNBC. With time winding down and the score tied 56-56, James Woods and Micah Jessie connected on back-to-back layups to put UBC up by four, but back-to-back baskets in response from Josh Gillespie and Chris Ross tied things back up at 60, which is how the third quarter would end.

Chris Ross put an exclamation point on his career-high night with 10 fourth quarter points as the TWolves outscored the T-Birds 28-9 in the final 10. Josh Gillespie and Evgeny Baukin notched early buckets for UNBC and Karan Aujla answered with a three for UBC making it a 64-63 UNBC lead. Chris Ross then drilled a corner three to make it 67-63. In the process, Ross matched his previous career high with 21 points. Moments later he set a new career high when he converted on a pair of free-throws, keeping UNBC ahead by four at 69-65. A big block from Evgeny Baukin on Adam Olson then resulted in another layup for Ross, and then Justin Sunga drained a three to move the TWolves up 74-67. Spencer Ledoux then grabbed a Justin Sunga rebound and put it home, increasing the lead to nine at 76-67. The final dagger came from Chris Ross who nailed his sixth and final three of the night from the right-wing elbow, making it an 84-67 lead. Moments later, UNBC was able to celebrate their 88-69 victory.

Todd Jordan’s club finished the night 10-for-31 from three and outrebounded UBC by a 43-36 margin. Chris Ross’ 28 points, six threes and 12 rebounds were noteworthy for UNBC as he captured the Mr. Mike’s Player of the Game honour, but Josh Gillespie churned out another double-double performance in his own right with 17 points and 15 rebounds. James Woods was the top scorer for UBC with 19 points along with four rebounds and five assists.
 
The TWolves and T-Birds meet again Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the NSC for 2024 Pride Night presented by MNP and supported by Scotiabank.

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