Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan
KELOWNA, BC - UBC Okanagan guard Aldrich Berrios had seven points in a 12-0 UBC Okanagan run to open the game on Friday night as the Heat hosted the University of Regina Cougars in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium to open the 2017 portion of the Canada West men's basketball schedule.
Berrios would finish with a game high 29 points including a career best seven made three pointers (7-13) but it was the visiting Cougars who secured the win in the final minutes.
The last few moments of the fourth quarter were tense as the Heat closed the gap to three points (80-77) after Mitch Goodwin made a three-pointer with 46 seconds left. A Johneil Johnson layup with 32 seconds left made it 82-77 for Regina, and a steal by Alex Igual led to his being fouled and making one of two free throws, putting the Cougars up six. Buzz Truss scored for the Heat with just under a second left to play, pulling the home side within four, but with no time to get off another shot, the buzzer sounded with the final score 83-79 for Regina.
The Heat's Aldrich Berrios along with his seven three-point shots, led all scorers in the game, with 29 points. Mitch Goodwin finished behind him with 25 points, and Buzz Truss rounded out the UBCO top three with 10 points. For the Cougars, Alex Igual led the way with 24 points, with Brandon Tull and Brian Ofori behind him with 14 and 13 respectively. Berrios and Igual also tied for the game high in assists, with five each, and Carter Millar notched a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
In terms of team statistics, the teams were evenly matched across the board. Each side had 16 assists, rebounds were 23-21 in favour of Regina, who also held the edge in steals (11-9). The Heat finished with less turnovers (22-24). The Heat had the marginally better shooting night, finishing well ahead in three-point percentage (57.9% - 36%) and free throw percentage (70% - 63.2%), but the Cougars had the edge in field goal percentage (49% - 46.6%).
The first half belonged to UBC Okanagan, who led 15-10 after the first quarter and 32-31 at half-time. Goodwin, Igual, and Berrios had already hit double digits in scoring after the first twenty minutes of play, putting up 14, 12, and 10 respectively. Millar was also nearly into his double-double, having pulled down seven rebounds and netted nine points through two quarters.
Regina took over in the third quarter, putting up 27 points to take a 58-54 lead heading into the final frame. Berrios started the scoring in the second half with his second three-pointer just ten seconds in, but Regina's Travis Sylvestre ansered that with one of his own at the 9:08 mark. A pair of layups from Igual and two made three-throws from Tull gave the Cougars their first lead of the half, 40-39, with 7:44 left to go in the third. The Heat were down by seven with 3:10 to go, before a pair of Truss free throws were quickly followed by a steal and converted three-pointer by Berrios brought the Heat within two (53-51) at 2:57. Berrios made another free throw later in the quarter, but Benjamin and Samuel Hillis combined for five points in the final minute and change to put the Cougars up four going into the final frame, where they would hold on and close out in the final minutes.
The Heat (1-10) and Cougars (6-3) will meet again tomorrow night, with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.