Men’s basketball starts the season with a series sweep

The UBC men’s basketball team opened their season at home with back-to-back wins over the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. It was a defensive battle as they led the way to two dominating performances, winning 98–76 on Friday and continuing the success with a 82–66 performance on Saturday.

After both teams struggled to find the net in the opening minutes of Friday’s action, the T-Birds would go on to settle into an offensive rhythm by dominating inside the paint. Fifth-year forward Brian Wallack led this charge and finished the game with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

The Pronghorns were able to close the gap, tying the game at 30 a piece with four and a half minutes left in the second, however, the ‘Birds turned on the jets, ending the half with a 45-31 lead and never looked back.

Senior James Woods also commanded the offence. On a clean 11 for 17 shooting, the guard was the team’s leading scorer, ending the game with an impressive 28 points in 34 minutes.

While the team leaned on the production of UBC vets, the victory was also earned through the help of newly acquired transfer, Fareed Shittu. His athleticism was displayed at full force and his presence was evident just ten minutes in, as he recorded a steal and a block by the end of the first quarter.

“He has potential to be great,” said head coach Kevin Hanson. “He does a lot of things you can’t coach … He can play one through five and he can defend one through five.”

In Saturday’s game, Woods picked up where he left off as he scored 10 of the team’s first 20 points. He would go on to finish with a team-high of 19 while converting 3 of 6 from beyond the arc.

The T-Birds settled into a groove early in this game. They finished the first with a solid 13 point lead and hovered around that margin until the final buzzer.

Adam Olsen, a 6’7” sharpshooting freshman, had an incredible preseason shooting an unheard-of 60 per cent from three, but struggled to find the net from there in the home opener. It was a similar story during the first half of Saturday’s matchup.

But, as the halftime break ended and the T-Birds returned to the gym, they were led by Olsen, who practically sprinted from the locker room to the court to get some shots up before the beginning of the third. Olsen went on to sink two threes in the second half. His drive is something Hanson says doesn’t go unnoticed.

“You have to love freshmen, they want to play 40 minutes a game," he said. "When [Olsen] has the hunger to do that, and he certainly has the skill, he’s going to be an impactful player for us."

The Thunderbirds are facing a long road trip, as their next home game won’t be until November 25. They will travel to Manitoba this weekend, where they will take on the University of Winnipeg Wesman in another two-game series.