Aneesa Heatherington/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds hit the century mark as they toppled the UBC Okanagan Heat 100-64 at War Memorial Gym and extended their undefeated streak to a perfect 7-0 on the year.
An early defensive breakdown by the Heat opened a lane for Jordan Jensen-Whyte to start the scoring for the 'Birds. UBCO responded with a long two by Mitch Goodwin, but it would be their only basket for the next five minutes as the Thunderbirds went on a 19-0 run – punctuated by a massive Conor Morgan swat halfway through the frame. UBC was up 30-11 after the first quarter and led 47-32 at the half.
Jensen-Whyte opened the scoring in the second half hitting both his free throws and Morgan followed up with two of his 34 points on the night. The Heat pushed back in the third with a Noma Obaseki three to trim the T-Bird lead to 56-42, but after 30 minutes of play the 'Birds were up 72-51.
It was all Thunderbirds in the fourth, as the Heat continued to struggle offensively and were forced into turnovers by a stingy UBC defence.
Rookie Izaiah Ugoalah made the most of his nine minutes on the floor, shooting 3-4 from the field with two threes and eight points.
"I'm just happy to come in and help my team get the 'W'," said Ugoalah. "I've been practicing hard, trying to go at fifth year guys like Conor, Jordan, Phil, Will…and just wait on my chance. I've known guys on the team since I was young, but it's been cool meeting all the other guys and really feels like a family – everyone looks out for each other."
"He's doing very well defensively," said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. "He's progressing nicely. It's games like this where you see the potential, I'm really happy for him. Confidence plays such a huge factor, and obviously he's going to be pretty confident after tonight."
The 'Birds dominated down low with 38 points in the paint and capitalized on 29 Heat turnovers. Jensen-Whyte grabbed five of UBC's 17 steals and finished with 20 points.
With the win, UBC is one of two unbeaten teams in the Canada West and jumps up to second in the division.
Saturday is the final test of 2016, and Hanson knows his team will be focussed to close out the year undefeated.
"Tonight's the night all the papers got handed in for the last week of classes, so there's a little bit of an adrenaline rush. Tomorrow we'll get guys prepared and have the mental side of the game ready to go."
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds