UBC men’s basketball prevailed against NCAA Division I University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Runnin’ Rebels 79–72 in a summertime exhibition game at War Memorial Gym on Tuesday night.
Fourth-year guard James Woods played an outstanding game with 33 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds.
The Runnin’ Rebels came out strong at the start to get the first points on the board. UBC third-year guard Jack Cruz-Dumont responded with a layup to set the score even at 2–2. The T-Birds fell behind for the remainder of the quarter but kept the Runnin’ Rebels to a five-point difference trailing 28–23 at the end of the frame.
Woods started the second quarter with a three to cut UNLV’s lead to 28–26, but the Runnin’ Rebels brought the difference back up to four points. Coming into the quarter strong, fifth-year forward Sukhman Sandhu hit two consecutive three-pointers to lift UBC 32–30. A second triple from Woods widened the gap to five before UNLV’s Jackie Johnson crashed in with two layups. The Runnin’ Rebels sank two more threes, while Jamesley Jerome and Brian Wallack jumped in with layups to put points on the board for UBC.
With two minutes remaining until the half, the Runnin' Rebels held a fragile one-point lead. With the Rebels feeling the pressure, Sandhu was able to find an opening and sink another three to head into the half with a 42–40 lead for UBC.
The ‘Birds held their lead throughout the third and fourth quarters. As the clock ran down at the end of the fourth, Woods calmly put up two free throws to capture a 79–72 home victory.
The 2,103-person crowd roared as the final buzzer sounded. UBC saw a sold-out crowd despite charging $10 for tickets — tickets for the 21/22 season were free.
UBC has a while to go until the start of conference games. Their first Canada West matchup is on November 12 hosting the University of Northern BC Timberwolves.
“It’s tough because it is, you know, three months away from our first conference game,” said Thunderbirds head coach Kevin Hanson. “I think what it does do, is it gives our guys a lot of belief in themselves and belief in what we’re trying to achieve.”