The King was away from the castle Saturday night, but no one on the TRU WolfPack men’s basketball team wanted to take the crown.
The WolfPack lost 78-54 to the UBC Thunderbirds at TRU Gym to fall to 5-7 in Canada West. The WolfPack will play games against the Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton on Friday and the Saskatchewan Huskies in Saskatoon on Saturday.
The WolfPack was missing its top player Saturday, as Canada West leading scorer and rebounder Justin King is nursing a sore finger on his right hand and is “day-to-day,” according to head coach Scott Clark.
Clark was hoping someone — anyone — would step up in King’s absence, but it never really happened.
“Injuries are part of basketball . . . people need to step up and respond,” Clark said. “At times that happened, but not enough obviously.”
Chas Kok finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the WolfPack, and Kevin Pribilsky scored 10, but it was a struggle all night for TRU.
The WolfPack’s defence faltered early, allowing UBC to score some easy baskets and take a 26-13 lead after a quarter.TRU was down 47-31 at the half, before a run late in the third quarter brought the deficit to 10 heading into the fourth.
The WolfPack’s lack of depth showed in the final 10 minutes, as UBC scored 19 of the game’s final 24 points.
“We have to have something we can go to when it’s money time, and I never felt that we really had that,” Clark said.
Perhaps the lone bright spot for TRU was the play of twin 6-foot-10 centres Ivan and Blaz Bozinovic. The rookies out of St. Ann’s played more than they’ve played all season, each scoring four points and grabbing a rebound.
Blaz played 18 minutes, while Ivan played seven minutes before being ejected midway through the third quarter. Ivan Bozinovic was assessed an unsportsmanlike foul after a scary play in which UBC’s Balraj Bains fell heavily to the floor following a slam dunk on a breakaway.
“They’ve come an awful long way,” Clark said. “They’re coming from a disadvantaged background, in terms of playing single-A basketball . . . so they’ve got some things to overcome.
“Both of them come each and every day, they put an effort forward, they do what’s required and I think they’re getting to a point right now where we’re starting to see some dividends.”
Speaking of big men from Kamloops, UBC’s David Wagner, a freshman out of South Kam, was solid, scoring five points and grabbing four rebounds in 12 minutes.
He looked very comfortable on the floor — it may have had to do with his personal cheering section, featuring six buddies from South Kam with their chests painted to read “T-Birds.”
It was a happy return to Kamloops, as the T-Birds headed home with two victories, including an 83-66 victory Friday.
“We played well — it might have been our best weekend,” Wagner, a 6-foot-9 forward, said. “We controlled the tempo and beat a good team twice in a row.”
Tommy Nixon had 22 points and 13 rebounds for UBC, Nathan Yu scored 12 and Bains, who appeared all right after the incident with Bozinovic, added 10.
The T-Birds (8-2) are off the Winnipeg to play the Manitoba Bisons on Friday and the U of Winnipeg Wesmen on Saturday.
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TRU’s women’s basketball team fell to 5-7 after an exciting 59-55 loss to the T-Birds at TRU Gym on Saturday.
The WolfPack is off to play road games against Alberta and Saskatchewan on the weekend.
Saturday’s game was a tight, low-scoring affair until the fourth quarter, when the teams exploded to score 21 points each.
TRU trailed by five with three minutes remaining, before tying the game at 55 with 1:04 on the clock. UBC’s Alex Vieweg scored a go-ahead layup with 30 seconds remaining, and TRU couldn’t answer.
Kaitlyn Widsten had 15 points for the WolfPack, all of them in the game’s final 13 minutes, Jorri Duxbury scored 12 and Diane Schuetze added 10.
Veiweg scored 27 points to lead UBC (8-2), and Zara Huntley scored 12.
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The WolfPack women’s volleyball team fell in three sets (25-13, 25-19, 25-13) to the UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver.
The WolfPack is 4-10, while UBC is 11-1.
Kelly Asleson had 10 kills to lead the WolfPack, which also lost in three sets to UBC on Friday, and Iliana Hecimovic had eight digs. Kara Twomey helped out with 21 set assists.
Rosie Schlagintweight’s seven kills led the Thunderbirds.
The WolfPack is scheduled to play host to the Brandon Bobcats (8-6) at the Tournament Capital Centre on Friday, 6 p.m., and Saturday, 5 p.m.
It is an important weekend — if the WolfPack wants to qualify for the playoffs, it pretty much has to beat the Bobcats, who have won six straight.
TRU currently is eighth in the conference, with the top seven teams making playoffs. Brandon sits sixth, with the Calgary Dinos (6-6) in seventh.
The Bobcats have a difficult schedule remaining, while the Dinos will play two of the conference’s bottom three teams.
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The WolfPack men’s volleyball team lost one of its top players Saturday, but still managed to beat the UBC Thunderbirds in four sets (19-25, 27-25, 26-24, 25-23) in Vancouver.
Brad Gunter, a rookie outside, went down with an undisclosed injury in the second set Saturday. WolfPack head coach Pat Hennelly called the injury “serious” in a press release.
“I am not sure he’ll be able to play next weekend,” Hennelly added. “He’ll have to be evaluated by our medical staff.”
The WolfPack will be home to the Bobcats (7-7) on Friday, 8 p.m., and Saturday, 7 p.m.
In Gunter’s place, Casey Knight played well, with eight kills and six blocks. Jesse Bazergui, who also was banged up in the victory, ended with 10 kills, as did Kryztstof Orman. Spencer Reed also had 10 digs. Robert Bennett had 16 kills for the T-Birds.
Like the women’s volleyballers, the WolfPack men (3-11) are fighting to make the playoffs.
Although TRU is 10th in the conference, it has six meaningful matches remaining. The WolfPack also will play the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies (1-11) on Jan. 27-28, before playing the UBC-Okanagan Heat (3-9) in Kelowna on Feb. 10-11.
The WolfPack likely will have to win five of its remaining six matches to have a chance at the playoffs.