MBB: T-Birds grind out series clinching victory vs Cascades

MBB: T-Birds grind out series clinching victory vs Cascades

Stu Walters/UBC Thunderbirds

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds used a balanced attack and battled on the boards to grind out an 85-73 game three victory to get past the UFV Cascades 2-1 in the best-of-three Canada West quarterfinal series Saturday night at War Memorial Gym.

After splitting the first two games of the high scoring and physical series the Canada Wests third ranked T-Birds relied on some veteran scorers while also outrebounding the Cascades 47-33 to close out the series on home court. UBC will now advance and travel to meet the Albera Golden Bears in the best-of-three semifinal series beginning late next weekend.

Manroop Clair was lethal from outside in hitting five of his nine three-point attempts on his way to a game high 29 points while fellow fourth-year guard Jadon Cohee was key down the stretch in registering 20 points in the contest. Grant Shephard added 15 points while Patrick Simon added nine points while collecting a game high 14 rebounds.

Andrew Morris led the way for the Cascades with 23 points and eight rebounds while Parm Bains chipped in with 16 points and five assists. Mark Johnson added 13 points including a team high three, three-pointers on the evening.

"That was a real tough series, it was physical with an awful lot of talent on both sides," said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. "Both teams left their hearts out there it was a great battle with a lot of bumps and bruises so now it's about enjoying this one and regrouping for next week. We said before the game that the number one stat line would be rebounding, you know the losses we've had this year we've been out rebounded. I thought we did a really good job of that, still gave up more than we wanted to at the offensive end but I'm proud of how our guys came back and showed resilience after the tough loss in game one."

The T-Birds jumped out to an energetic start with help from an efficient 44 percent field goal shooting which included a 40 percent clip from three-point land en route to a 16-4 advantage midway through the opening frame. Shephard set the tone with a quarter high nine points, three of which were from beyond the arc. Clair was also heating up from outside which was a precursor for things to come as he hit two of three from downtown while collecting eight points. Patrick Simon added four points and collected an impressive seven defensive rebounds in the frame for UBC who enjoyed a 26-10 lead. The Cascades struggled in the early going hitting just four of 20 shot attempts from the field which included going a rare 0 for nine from three-point land.

Clair continued with his hot hand in the second quarter scoring 15 points thanks to hitting on three of four field goal attempts which included draining two of his three shots from downtown. Clair's fourth three-pointer of the night would give UBC a 43-25 lead before Parm Bains answered back with a three of his own cutting it to 43-28. Morris set the tone for the Cascades with eight points while both teams matched each other with 20 points scored in the frame and a T-Birds 46-13 halftime lead.

The Cascades came out of the break with a much-improved 59 percent field goal shooting including an 80 percent clip from beyond the arc that saw the visitors hit four of five treys to outscore UBC 27-20 in the frame. Johnson led the way for UFV with eight points with help from hitting both of his three-point attempts. Parm Bains and Sukhjot Bains each hit from downtown to pull with seven at 59-52 before Clair dropped his fifth three-pointer to go up 64-53 and eventually 66-57 after three quarters. Cohee led the 'Birds with eight points while Clair followed with six for the hosts.

The final frame was back and forth with UBC earning the narrow scoring advantage at 19-16, Cohee came up clutch when it mattered most, driving the lane with some key buckets as part of his quarter high eight points. UFV would pull within five points on a couple of occasions with help from three-pointers from Johnson and Morris who led the way with eight points. In the end, it was the T-Birds who eventually pulled away for the twelve point 85-73 win.

"I'm very happy with the team's effort today, but especially throughout the week." Said the game's leading scorer Manroop Clair. "We came out for game one on Thursday very flat and we answered back on Friday very strong and desperate to win and today the same thing. We showed a lot of heart and that's the way we have to continue against Alberta."

With the victory, the T-Birds will hit the road to meet the Canada Wests number two ranked Alberta Golden Bears in the semi-finals beginning next week.

PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds