(By University of Regina Sports Information)
The University of Regina's men's basketball team gave its postseason hopes a big boost on Friday night with an 81-54 win over Thompson Rivers on Friday night at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
The Cougars never trailed after going on an early 9-0 run in the first quarter. Regina led 18-14 after the first quarter, extended that lead to 37-26 at the break, and used a big 11-2 run midway through the third to open up a 23-point advantage from which Thompson Rivers never recovered.
Both teams move to 8-11 and are among several squads battling for the final five available Canada West playoff positions. Mount Royal also sits at 8-11 after losing to Manitoba on Friday, while Victoria is 7-11 and is also in action late Friday.
Brandon Tull had a big double-double for the Cougars in the win, leading all players with 20 points while pulling down 10 rebounds and also recording six of the U of R's 14 steals. Brian Ofori and Travis Sylvestre both added 16 points, while Johneil Johnson had another strong game off the bench with 14 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes played. Ofori added nine rebounds and five blocks for Regina.
Rookie guard Benjamin Hillis fell just short of a rare non-points double-double, finishing with nine rebounds and nine assists.
Luke Morris and Volodymyr Iegorov both had double-doubles for TRU. Morris finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Iegorov had 11 points and 10 boards. Derek Rhodes added 10 points for the WolfPack.
After taking that 11-point lead into halftime, the Cougars set the tone for the second half with three-pointers by Tull and Alex Igual on their first two possessions. That quickly pushed the lead up to 15 points for the U of R, and the momentum-shifting 11-2 run was powered by Sylvestre. Playing in his final weekend at the CKHS, the fifth-year forward scored seven of those 11 points and punctuated the run with a massive two-handed dunk in traffic after a nifty no-look, behind-the-back dish from Tull that put the U of R up 59-36.
Thompson Rivers countered with a 10-1 run to close out the third quarter trailing by 15, but couldn't continue that momentum into the fourth.
The two teams will finish off the Canada West schedule on Saturday night at the CKHS, with the winner assured of a postseason berth. The loser could also get in, depending on tiebreaking scenarios and how many eight-win teams remain after Saturday's games conclude.