The UFV Cascades men’s basketball team squeaked out a victory Thursday, edging the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns 66-64 in Canada West quarterfinal action. The series continues Friday, Feb 21, at 7 pm at the Envision Athletic Centre on the Abbotsford campus. The Cascades now lead the best-of-three series 1-0, one win away from a berth in the Canada West Final Four tournament.
Thursday’s game was a disciplined battle between two talented and well-coached squads — but there the similarities between the two programs ended. The Cascades are an extremely athletic team who use their defensive edge to create transition points and stifle their opponents. The Pronghorns finished the season as the highest-scoring offense in the Canada West, averaging 84.3 points a game out of a meticulous offensive structure with pinpoint accurate shooters. The game tonight was a clash of two systems, the meeting of two dominant and almost equally powerful forces.
In the end two points was all that separated them.
The Pronghorns took a 5-2 lead in the second minute of the first quarter on a trey from fifth-year guard Morgan Duce, and more-or-less kept that lead until a Klaus Figueredo free-throw put the Cascades up 33-32 with two minutes let in the half. Tonight Figueredo was once again able to provide a singular answer to a collective cold streak, scoring 17 points (and going 3-5 from behind the arc) through 20 minutes. While UFV seemed to struggle to keep up with the cutting, driving, scoring prowess of the Pronghorns, Lethbridge ended the half down four and trailing the Cascades’ shooting percentage in all categories.
The second half continued with more of the same as both teams pulled out some beautiful plays to preserve the equilibrium. The Cascades scored their way to a 60-52 lead with six minutes left in the game, but the Pronghorns would score the next ten points (five courtesy of senior point-guard Logan Reiter) to tilt the scales back in their favour. Still, Cascades sharp-shooter Manjodh Dulay hit a clutch three-pointer with 20 seconds left to take the lead and eventually the game.
Lethbridge finished with a collective 24 assists to UFV’s 21 tonight, the unusually high numbers representing just how efficiently both teams distributed the ball. Despite 21 minutes from 6-10 Pronghorn Bruce Watkins, the Cascades out-rebounded their opponents 44-33, including 17-10 on the offensive glass.
The Pronghorns were led by Logan Reiter with 15 points, and Morgan Duce with 11. Watkins, a third-year forward who battled hard with Moedt all night and chipped in ten points, had never even played high school basketball before walking on at a California junior college.
UFV ended the night with four players in double-digit scoring: Dulay (14), Figueredo (19), Jasper Moedt (17), and Kevon Parchment (14).
“We’re glad to earn a hard-fought victory tonight, “ said Cascades head coach Adam Friesen. “Lethbridge made life really hard on us, but we played calm under pressure and made some big shots to help us get this victory.”
The Cascades and Pronghorns will continue the series tomorrow (Friday) night at 7 pm, once again at the EAC. Watch the game online at canadawest.tv