They’re making a habit of this, these University of Victoria Vikes.
Craig Beaucamp’s men’s basketball team is off to the CIS national tournament for the third straight year after Friday’s lopsided 86-61 victory over the University of Fraser Valley Cascades in the Canada West Final Four tournament at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
The Vikes poured down on the Cascades early, opening up a quick 11-0 lead and 27-12 advantage after the opening quarter and never relented.
“It feels as good as the first time,” Beaucamp said of getting back to nationals, set for next weekend at Ryerson University in Toronto.
The Vikes rode some red-hot performances to earn the opportunity. Saskatoon native Mack Roth recorded the first seven points of the game for the Vikes, who will meet the Huskies in tonight’s Canada West championship game at 6 p.m. PST after Saskatchewan’s 81-75 win over the UBC Thunderbirds in the second semifinal.
Roth had 17 of his game-high 19 points by the half, while Canada West player of the year, Chris McLaughlin, added 12 by the break.
Reiner Theil was also 3-for-3 from the three-point line in the opening half and good on his first five field goals as the Vikes took a 46-37 advantage into the intermission. Theil finished with 15 total points for the victors, as did guard Marcus Tibbs.
McLaughlin had 17 in total. Kevon Parchment led the Cascades with 17.
The last time the Vikes claimed a conference crown was 2005-06 and the last national title came in 1996-97.
“Sometimes you overlook it,” Beaucamp said of the elusive Canada West crown. “We’ve been to this dance a few times and have come up short. We’d like to punch that ticket as well.”
In women’s play, the nationally unranked Vikes were facing the Canada West defending-champion Saskatchewan Huskies at the Final Four at UBC’s War Memorial gymnasium, and it proved too tough a hurdle to overcome.
The Huskies cruised to a 77-61 win over the Vikes, earning Saskatchewan a spot in the gold-medal game tonight against the host Thunderbirds. UBC beat Alberta 72-59 in their semifinal.
The Vikes and Pandas will play their bronze-medal game today at 5 p.m.