Looking for a spark, the University of Victoria Vikes got it in the dying seconds of the first half against the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves on Saturday night.
Terrell Evans’s towering finger roll gave the Vikes men a 34-33 lead and then Michael Acheampong went the length of the floor to secure a 36-33 advantage at the break.
The momentum carried over into the final two quarters, resulting in a 72-61 win for the now 13-5 Vikes, who struggled in the opening quarter after defeating the Timberwolves 89-80 the night before at McKinnon Gym.
Evans, who was held scoreless in the first quarter, finished with a game-high 23 points while Acheampong and Chris McLaughlin added 14 each for the Vikes.
“I’m just glad we won,” said a relieved Evans, the fourth-year Vike out of Las Vegas. “That’s two in a row where we haven’t come out well.
“I know [coach Craig] Beaucamp isn’t going to be happy and we’ll look after that in practice. Playing against better teams, that could cost us. We just have to change that and come out with better starts.”
Victoria, with six straight wins, has clinched a Canada West playoff spot and now looks to secure second place in the Pacific Division next weekend in Calgary against Mount Royal.
Facing 5-12 UNBC, Victoria was given all it could handle, especially in the first quarter, having trailed 14-10.
That continued until late in the first half when Evans and Acheampong provided the spark.
“I just went in and did my job,” said Evans. “Rebound and breathe some energy, and score a bit.”
He scored, a lot, adding to his team-leading totals. Evans was averaging 17.6 points a game prior to the game.
In women’s play, the Vikes stormed out to a 10-0 lead and followed that up shortly afterward with another 9-0 run in opening up a 24-8 advantage after the first quarter on UNBC.
But the Timberwolves flashed some teeth, cutting it to 42-32 at the half and 65-60 early in the fourth quarter before finally falling 82-66 to coach Dani Sinclair’s Vikes, who also improve to 13-5 on the season.
There was no doubt the Vikes checked out mentally early in this one, with the big lead.
“I think, for sure, that we did,” said Sinclair. “I think we rested and it wasn’t until they were within 10 that our girls finally woke up.
“We can’t do that. We’re now in the playoffs, we talk about wanting to go deep in the playoffs and you can’t do that if you’re that inconsistent,” Sinclair stressed. “Our defence was not at a very high level today.
“When you get up by that much, you want to use a game like that to get better, but we weren’t able to do that because it was like a dogfight in the end.”
A fight they eventually won, however, in claiming their eighth victory in their last nine outings.
Chelsea McMullen and Debbie Yeboah had 16 each for the Vikes while Shaylyn Crisp added 15, including a critical three-pointer that made it 72-62.
The women Vikes also get back at it this coming weekend at Mount Royal.
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