VICTORIA – The Victoria Vikes men's basketball team used a strong defensive fourth quarter to break open the game and defeat the visiting Trinity Western Spartans 72-63 Friday night inside the CARSA Performance Gym.
"Our team did an excellent job competing tonight. We defended well for three quarters of the game," commented TWU head coach Aaron Muhic. "I also thought we made a great effort on the boards. Peter [Spangehl] , Max [Viitala], and Pat [Vandervelden] were big on the glass, but we need to defend better down the stretch tomorrow night."
The win bumps the Vikes record to 6-9, where they are tied for the twelfth and final playoff spot with the University of Regina Cougars. The loss for the Spartans continues what has been a difficult season for a team that is now 2-13.
"Tonight offensively we struggled to score early on but we had a chance and got a result because defensively we were solid as far as holding their field goal percentage down and winning the rebounding battle," said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp.
Fifth-year Vike Grant Sitton was dominant when his team needed him the most, scoring 17 points of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter.
"I think we just didn't play strong enough defence on Sitton down the stretch, he took over and we let him touch the ball way too much, and that was the ballgame," said Aaron Muhic. "It was a pretty competitive game up until then, but I was proud of our guys and the way we fought, we had a chance to compete and that's all you can ask for."
While Sitton shone on the offensive end, it was the defence that allowed the Vikes to register their first home victory of the Canada West season.
"You have to win games when you don't score or play particularly well and we've had games where we have scored but haven't defended and we didn't win," said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp. "Shooting and offence is precarious, it's up and down at every level, so the only thing that gave us a chance tonight was the defence."
The Vikes limited the Spartans to just 34.8 per cent shooting from the floor in the game, while also picking up ten more rebounds than Trinity Western.
"If you eliminate transition points and offensive rebounds, because those are easy baskets, then you have a chance to win," said Beaucamp.
Sitton picked up his 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting, Scott Kellum chipped in with 17 points, while JJ Hamel-Carey added 15 points and two assists.
Patrick Vandervelden led the way for the Spartans, scoring 19 points in his 34 minutes on the court.
"He's come a long way, he's not the biggest or strongest guy but I really felt like he fought for 40 minutes," said Muhic. "You could tell he was ready to play right from the start."
Shooting 66 per cent from the field in the fourth and deciding quarter, the Vikes were able to take what was a five-point lead after three and come away with the win comfortably. That was the only quarter in which either team shot over 50 per cent in what was a defensive battle.
These same two teams will be back in action tomorrow, Janaury 28, in the CARSA Performance Gym with a scheduled start of 7 pm. That game can be watched live on canadawest.tv
Game Notes: Victoria had a 45-35 edge in rebounding… the Spartans had 13 turnovers, while the Vikes had 10… there were 56 three-point attempts in the game. TWU went 9-32, while Victoria finished 6-24…