Two teams that badly need some points in an extremely tight Canada West playoff race will clash this weekend, when the UVic Vikes men’s basketball team host the Mount Royal Cougars on Jan. 26 and 27, inside the CARSA Performance Gym.
The contest on Friday night, at 8 p.m., will be the annual Shoot for the Cure game, a nationwide initiative on behalf of all U SPORTS basketball teams to raise funds and awareness for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Saturday night, starting at 7 p.m., will be a busy one inside CARSA, not only is it a combination of fan appreciation night and Bell Let’s Talk night, but the 2017 National Champion women’s rugby 7s team will also be honoured at halftime.
Getting back to the action on the court, the 9-7 Vikes are tangled in a three-way tie for sixth in the conference and will take on a 7-9 Cougars team that are locked in a three-way tie of their own, for the 11th spot in Canada West.
The Cougars were last in town for a pair of pre-season games in October of 2016. Justin Kinnear went for 19 and 15 in those two contests, as the Vikes swept the Cougars by scores of 80-72 and 77-75.
Last Time Out
The Vikes pulled a Jekyll and Hyde act last weekend, while the Cougars continued their recent slide with a pair of losses.
Only scoring nine points in the first quarter doomed the Vikes to a 75-69 loss to the UNBC Timberwolves despite a late comeback effort. There was no need for dramatics the next night, as the Vikes shot 46 percent from the floor en route to putting up a season-high 106 points to defeat UNBC by 29.
The Cougars were in tough last weekend, hosting the No. 3 ranked team in the nation, the Alberta Pandas. Mount Royal struggled to put up points in back-to-back losses of 67-55 and 73-64.
By the Numbers
8.6: Fifth-year forward Josh Ross is the leading rebounder for the Cougars and fourth overall in the conference.
76.8: The games set up to be a defensive duel. The Vikes allow the fourth-fewest points per game, while the Cougars are allowing only two points more.
46%: Ross (19.1) and LJ Hegwood (17.3) account for almost half of the Cougars points per game.
Craig Beaucamp, Vikes head coach
“We could still end up anywhere from fifth to 13th in our conference. There are nine teams that are two losses or less apart so obviously, these games at home are really important against a team that it is in the hunt just like we are.”
On Ross and Hegwood:
“They have been their leading scorers consistently throughout the season and they both pose different challenges. Ross can score the ball in a variety of different ways, outside or inside. Hegwood is good in transition, a real good athlete who gets to the rim quickly. They are definitely two of the elite players in our conference.”
“Consistency from quarter to quarter and from game to game is key. We’ve been really good when we are on, but at the same time we have had dips in performance that have cost us a couple of games. When you look at our performances in the second half I think it’s been more good than bad, but we have to bring our energy right from the tip-off Friday night because the playoffs started for us a few weeks ago and we have to make sure that we have that mentality.”
Friday, Jan. 26 – 8:00 p.m. – vs. Mount Royal Cougars, CARSA Performance Gym – Watch live on canadawest.tv | Buy tickets at govikesgo.com
Sunday, Jan. 27 – 7:00 p.m. – vs. Mount Royal Cougars, CARSA Performance Gym – Watch live on canadawest.tv | Buy tickets at govikesgo.com
Mount Royal Cougars (7-9)
Canada West Standings: t-11th
RPI: .4895, 10th
Last Week: 0-2
Streak: L 3
Last Canada West Title: N/A
Last U SPORTS Title: N/A