The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team had a strong second half but were unable to complete the comeback as they conceded an 85-73 game to the Regina Cougars at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport in Regina, Sask. on Feb. 5.
The Cougars were led by Jonathan Tull who had a game-high 23 points, while Brandon Tull put up 16 points and Alex Igual had 12.
The Cougars led by as many as 32 points in the third quarter after roaring out of the gates in the first half, but the Vikes slowly closed the gap in the final 15 minutes and closed out the game on a 12-1 run to bring the eventual margin of victory down to 12.
The win is a big one for Regina (9-6) in the Pioneer Division standings. The Cougars entered Friday in sixth place but are now tied for fourth after losses by both Lethbridge and Winnipeg. They could clinch a postseason berth tomorrow, but would need not only a second win over Victoria in as many nights but a Brandon win over Saskatchewan – and the Bobcats almost pulled off that win on Friday night, but were edged 77-76 by the Huskies in Saskatoon.
Victoria (7-10) remains in eighth place in the division and didn’t get any help on the out-of-town scoreboard as Alberta – which currently occupies the seventh and final playoff position in the Pioneer – improved to 8-8 on the season with a win over Trinity Western.
Besides Tull’s 23 points, the Cougars also got a 16-point performance from Brandon Tull while both Alex Igual (12 points) and Travis Sylvestre (10) also hit double figures in scoring. Aaron McGowan led the Cougars with seven rebounds, while both Tull brothers also had four assists.
The two teams combined for over 50 points in the first quarter alone, with 10 of Igual’s 12 points on the night coming during the opening 10 minutes. The Cougars led 30-21 after one, then closed out the second quarter on a massive 16-2 run to take a 58-31 lead into halftime.
It looked like the rout was on after the Cougars pushed the lead to 70-38 after a Brandon Tull three-pointer four minutes into the third, but Victoria tried to make things interesting from there. The outcome was likely never in question, but the Vikes immediately went on an 11-2 run after the Tull triple and got the lead down to 25 after three, and held the Cougars to just nine points in the fourth quarter. While Victoria never got closer than 12 points late in the game, the visitors scored 11 straight at one point down the stretch.
Regina and Victoria will do battle again on Saturday night at the CKHS. Game time is set for 8 p.m.
SCORING BY QUARTER
REG: 30-28-18-9 : 85
VIC: 21-10-20-22 : 73