Will Ondrik said more with one shot than he could ever hope to with his words.
Ondrik scored 27 points to lead the TRU WolfPack to an 88-80 victory over the Brandon Bobcats in a Canada West men's basketball game Saturday at the Tournament Capital Centre. The victory brings TRU's record to 4-4 and drops Brandon to 2-6.
In a back-and-forth game, Ondrik hit the shot that turned the tide in TRU's favour.
Coming off a timeout with about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Vernon native carried the ball upcourt, stopped at the top of the key and popped a three-pointer. It made the score 71-67, and sparked the WolfPack on a 13-2 run from which Brandon couldn't recover.
Ondrik scored 10 of TRU's last 20 points.
"I feel like I'm pretty aggressive offensively, and (Friday against Regina), I had a rough game where I felt like I forced things," Ondrik said. "I just took what the defence gave me tonight."
Ondrik, a 6-foot-7 forward in his second season, has quickly become one of the WolfPack's most reliable players. He leads the team in scoring (17.5 points per game) and also is averaging 7.4 rebounds per game.
But TRU head coach Scott Clark wants the quiet Ondrik to be a little more of a vocal, positive influence out there.
"I wish he would be a little more of a leader, to be honest," Clark said. "I think he has some potential to lead, but he needs to be more vocal and he needs to be more steady in his demeanour on the court.
"Sometimes things don't go well for you and sometimes you've got to put on a brave face, like 'Hey, things are still great.' He didn't have a great first half, but his demeanour was good and sometimes when you fake it enough, you make it."
Ondrik himself admits that he could be a little more assertive on the court, at least with his teammates. His play was anything but meek Saturday, as he slammed one ball down in the first quarter - drawing a big ovation from the crowd - and went hard to the basket throughout, earning 14 foul shots.
"I feel a lot more confident in my own game, and coach is giving me a green-light offensively," Ondrik said. "Even if I screw up, he's letting me stay in the game and work things out on my own."
The WolfPack looked unstoppable in taking a 27-13 first-quarter lead, but looked lost in giving up that lead before halftime. After that, it was a tight contest - in the second half, neither team led by more than four until Ondrik followed up his big trey with a two-pointer.
For Clark, the game turned on defence, not Ondrik's shot. But there was some offensive improvement in the late stages.
"I thought at the offensive end, we did a bit better job of slowing things down toward the end of the game," Clark said. "When the game gets fast, our decision-making gets squirrelly."
Rookie guard Troy Grant had one of his best games with the WolfPack, scoring 18 points, and Brett Rouault also scored 12. Each of the Bozinovic twins - Blaz and Ivan - scored nine points, with Blaz also grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds.
Kenonte Ramsey had 18 points for the Bobcats, and Michael Smith scored 15. Jordan Reaves added 12 points for Brandon, and Ilarion Bonhomme and Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak each scored 11.
It turned out to be an excellent weekend for the WolfPack, which had beaten the Regina Cougars 78-64 on Friday. TRU will be in Winnipeg on the weekend - it's scheduled to play the Wesmen on Saturday and the Manitoba Bisons on Sunday.
* * *
It was an easy victory for the WolfPack women's basketball team, which defeated the Bobcats 73-35 on Saturday.
Diane Schuetze had 22 points to lead the WolfPack (5-3), which scored the game's first 13 points before Brandon went on a 12-2 run. Taiysa Worsfold added 13 points as TRU got all of its players plenty of time on the court.
TRU's Jorri Duxbury had an interesting night - in three quarters, she had 10 rebounds, nine steals, four points and five assists.
Maegan MacKay led Brandon with eight points. Elsa Langill, a Kamloops native who helped the South Kamloops Titans to a provincial title last season, played 29 minutes in the loss, getting five rebounds and two steals.
The WolfPack will play the host Wesmen on Saturday and the Bisons on Sunday.