The CIS No. 3 ranked team may be putting together another successful season after moving to 10-2 with 2 more wins on the weekend, but that stellar record does not represent just how hard the Thunderbirds have had to work in order achieve it.
This past weekend on the road proved to be no easier. On Friday night the T-Birds traded blows with a hot University of Manitoba team (8-6) for 40 minutes, but still needed overtime to finish them off by a score of 93-84. On Saturday, the University of Winnipeg Wesmen (4-10) proved to be a tough host, pushing the visitors to the brink of defeat before the ‘Birds pulled ahead with 40 seconds left and managed to hold on 74-73.
It would have been much less stressful if UBC had been able to play dominant basketball for the entire game and not have each match come down to the final minutes. However, a win is a win, and the fact that UBC can win these hard-fought games despite some adversity shows the team’s character.
To be on the road against two teams hungry for wins and come out with two victories by the slimmest of margins shows that the ‘Birds are ready to contend. The best teams are the ones that can dig down and pull out those tough games when it matters most, and UBC has proven they can do that so far this year.
Turnovers have had the potential to severely hurt the ‘Birds this season, and the 23 they had against Manitoba nearly cost them another win. However, these mistakes never deterred the team. Instead, they motivated UBC to work harder and force 22 Manitoba turnovers.
Fatigue could be another excuse for losses after playing in back-to-back, emotionally taxing contests, but UBC showed few signs of weariness. A tough overtime battle would usually take its toll on a team playing the following night, but on Saturday the Thunderbirds showed no signs of quitting. They showed the same drive and played with the same intensity down the stretch as they did on Friday.
“I’m really happy that we clawed out the two wins. It would have been easy to have a letdown after our overtime win last night, but our veteran guys really stepped up when we needed them,” said assistant coach Casey Archibald after Saturday’s game.
UBC is now on a six game winning streak, their longest of the season. Their backs have been against the wall and several of the victories seemed improbable, but the heart of the ‘Birds has come through and led them to the top of the Canada West standings.
Nothing may come easy for the Thunderbirds, but victory is always much sweeter when you really earn it.