Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan
KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan Heat men's basketball team played their final game of the 2016/17 Canada West season on Saturday night, as they fell to the visiting Cascades from the University of the Fraser Valley 85-78 in Kelowna.
The final game of the season at home was paired with the annual Seniors Night ceremony, in which Mitch Goodwin and Cameron Friesen were honoured prior to the start of the men's game.
The game was close going into the final minute, with UBC Okanagan down three points, 77-74, with 1:45 to play. Vijay Dhillon scored four points to stretch the Cascades' lead to six points, 80-74, with 57 seconds left. A pair of free throws from Aldrich Berrios made it a two-possession game at 80-76, but that was as close at it would get. With no choice but to foul to stop the clock, the Heat put UFV at the free throw line six times, of which they made five.
A Randy Jerdinier layup provided the final Heat basket with 15 seconds left to make it 85-78, and a made free throw from UFV's Andrew Morris was the final point for the Cascades to make it 85-78 at the final buzzer.
UBC Okanagan were the better team from the free throw line on Saturday night, shooting 81.3% to UFV's 60% from the charity stripe. The Cascades shot better from the field (54.2% - 42.2%) and from three-point range (47.4% - 37.9%) in the game. Rebounds were 40-29 for UFV, assists were 14-12 for UBCO, and bench points were 38-23 for UFV.
Aldrich Berrios was the highest scorer on the night, finishing with a game-high 24 points for the Heat. Triston Matthews finished with 11 points and led UBCO in rebounds with seven, and Spencer Thomas and Navtej Sandhu tied for a team-high in assists with three apiece.
Andrew Morris scored a team-high 14 points for UFV, followed by Manny Dulay and Anthony Gilchrist who each finished with 10. Mark Johnson had a team-high eight rebounds for the Cascades.
The Heat started the game strong, taking a 26-21 lead after the first quarter. UFV outscored the Heat in the second quarter 21-18, but UBCO still held a lead at half-time, 44-42. At the break Berrios had already scored 14 of his 24 points, and the Heat were shooting better from the field (55.2% - 54.5%), from long range (57.1% - 50%), and from the free throw line (80% - 50%).
The second half was when the Cascades found their stride, winning the last two quarters. The visitors tied it up at 60 at the end of the third quarter, and were able to hold strong in the fourth to eke out the win in the final minutes by taking a lead and forcing the Heat to foul.
The UBC Okanagan Heat finish their season with a record of 2-18 and will not appear in the Canada West postseason. With the win the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades finish the regular season with a record of 11-9 and lock up a playoff spot as the tenth seed.
The playoffs get underway next weekend, with the play-in series scheduled for Friday, February 17 through Sunday, February 19.