In a back and forth game full of momentum shifts, the UBC men’s basketball team couldn’t complete a fourth quarter comeback against the University of Alberta Golden Bears on Friday night at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton, losing game one of their best-of-three playoff series by a score of 79-69.
The visiting Thunderbirds started the game out strong, going on an 18-2 run in the first quarter and leading 20-12 at the end of the first. However, they failed to build off that momentum as Alberta promptly followed up with a 16-0 run of their own, giving the Golden Bears the lead which they took into halftime.
The CIS No. 8 ranked Golden Bears extended their lead to double digits out of the half, but No. 7 ranked UBC proceeded to close the gap in the fourth quarter. Thanks to some key defensive stops and aggressiveness on offence, the Thunderbirds were only down by one point with two minutes left.
The T-Birds’ offence then went cold as they struggled to produce open shots and get to the basket. The Golden Bears capitalized by putting the game out of reach with a few quick baskets.
Foul trouble played a big factor in the game. Most notably, fifth-year point guard Nathan Yu was in foul trouble for most of the contest and was forced to play limited minutes in the second half.
“Our key guys were called for fouls early, so our regular rotations were forced to change,” said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson after the loss. “This also forced us to play more zone than normal just so we could keep guys in the game.”
The zone defence failed to consistently slow down a high-powered Alberta offence that shot over 48 per cent from the field. The defence was also not able to make up for 20 UBC turnovers that ultimately sealed their fate.
Kamar Burke led the ‘Birds with 17 points and 9 rebounds in the loss, while Doug Plumb chipped in with 15 points and 5 rebounds.
Alberta was led by Daniel Ferguson, who poured in 25 points, and Sahr Saffa, who contributed 23.
Game two starts Saturday night at 6pm Pacific Time.