Wallace’s Huge Third Leads Thunderbirds Over Bears

Title: Wallace’s Huge Third Leads Thunderbirds Over Bears
Date: February 22, 2013
Original Source: UBC Thunderbirds
Synopsis: Post-game recap for Feb. 22 Men’s Basketball game between UBC and Alberta.

VANCOUVER – The difference between regular season basketball and playoff basketball was stark and obvious at War Memorial Gym on Friday night.

BOX SCORE

Though the UBC Thunderbirds defeated the Alberta Bears 79-67 in the end, it wasn’t until late in the fourth that there was any certainty in the outcome. The Bears started out hot and then fought to hang in with UBC through the third and fourth, making for a tight and energetic atmosphere.

Thanks to a timely bout of hot shooting, some hard work on the glass and some seamless free throw shooting down the stretch, the home team prevailed to take game one of the best-of-three Canada West quarterfinal series. UBC hit 12-of-16 free throws in the fourth quarter to keep their lead secure late and also limited Alberta’s opportunities by outrebounding them 14-8 in the quarter.

But the game may not have been UBC’s to win in the fourth if it weren’t for O’Brian Wallace‘s (Toronto, ON) huge third quarter. Wallace scored 14 points on perfect shooting in the third, with 13 of those points coming in a five minute burst to start the quarter. He had 13 of the team’s first 17 points, helping them to a 10-point lead, their largest of the game to that point.

“I get in zones like that sometimes,” said Wallace. “In my head, it’s just, ‘keep shooting them, I’m ready.’”

Wallace finished with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Teammate Brylle Kamen(Paris, France) also did damage throughout, finishing with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Kamen banged hard on the glass all night to create second chance opportunities for the Thunderbirds, leading the way with six of the team’s 19 offensive rebounds.

Freshman Conor Morgan (Victoria, BC) emerged as a partner in crime for Kamen, grabbing five offensive rebounds and 13 boards overall. Though he scored just two points, coming on a thunderous first-half dunk, Morgan was a huge difference maker, especially down the stretch. With David Wagner (Kamloops, BC) and Tommy Nixon (Vancouver, BC) both in foul trouble, it was the rookie Morgan who got seven minutes of run in the fourth, grabbing seven boards.

“Conor was dynamite tonight,” said head coach Kevin Hanson. “It was a very physical game, and I’m glad to see him step up and play tough.”

Todd Bergen-Henengouwen led the way for the Bears with 17 points and eight rebounds but took 14 shots to get there. Kennet Otieno shot 3-for-13 as well, as the Bears managed just 35% shooting on the night. They did well defensively, holding UBC to 38%, but the rebounding advantage (53-34) provided the Thunderbirds with too many opportunities.

The physical, defensive battle is what most expect from playoff basketball, and the teams are expecting a similar battle in game two.

“Their backs are against the wall now,” said Hanson. “It’s going to be a similar style of game. It’s playoff basketball. It’s survival of the fittest right now.”

The second game of the series tips off at 8 p.m. on Saturday at War Memorial Gym.

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