KELOWNA, B.C. – Holding the country's sixth ranked and highest scoring team to their season low point total wasn't enough for the underdog UBC Okanagan Heat to knock off the visiting UBC Thunderbirds on Friday night in Kelowna.
The Heat trailed for most of the game - but only by single digits at the half (29-20), the low scoring affair had the smell of an upset but two fifth year players for the Thunderbirds took over in the third quarter to grab a road win, (73-47), over the home UBC Okanagan team.
Scoring 18 of UBC's 24 third quarter points, Conor Morgan and Luka Zaharijevic, both fifth year forwards, couldn't miss after the break shooting a combined 7-9 from the field and 2-2 from three. Morgan hit both threes and scored 10 points while Zaharijevic was nearly perfect around the rim finishing with eight points in the frame. The Heat saw their seven point halftime deficit swell to 20 heading into the fourth (53-33).
This was the annual "Shoot for the Cure" game for UBC Okanagan and for every three-point shot made by the Heat donated $50 dollars towards cancer research. seven made threes by UBCO made the grand total for the game to $350 dollars.
The Thunderbirds, already with a playoff spot locked down, moved to 14-3 and one game ahead of the Calgary Dinos (13-4) who lost on Thursday night to Lethbridge. The Heat are still winless (0-9) all-time against the T-birds and fall to (2-15) on the season.
Next Up: These two will will play again tomorrow night, with tip-off beginning at 7 p.m. PST in the UBC Okanagan gym.
With no fifth year players the young Heat team was led by second year guard Triston Matthews who finished with a team high 23 points, 3-10 from beyond the arc. Kyrin Cybenko, one of only two fourth year players on the roster, was a monster on the glass hauling in a game high 13 rebounds against the much larger UBC forwards. First year guard Philip Okanlawon continued to impress, the walk-on from Calgary scored six points in 25 minutes of floor time. All six points came on two made threes.
Conor Morgan and Luka Zaharijevic each managed double-doubles on the night. Morgan finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, Zaharijevic was 10 and 10. Another fifth year, Phil Jalalpoor, finished with 17 points in the win.
By the Numbers:
The UBC Thunderbirds led in both the field goal and three-point categories, with 47.5% and 26.3% of shots made, respectively. The UBC Okanagan Heat led in free-throws with 83.3% made. They also made 25.9% of field goals and 24.1% of free throws.
The Thunderbirds led in rebounds (42-36) and assists (17-9).
A strong Kelowna contingent was out at three players on the UBC roster and one on the UBC Okanagan roster played for the Kelowna Owls. All four played on the provincial championship team of 2016. All three KSS grads saw floor time for the Thunderbirds, Mason Boucier, Parker Simson, and Grant Shephard, while the Heat's Owen Keys remained sidelined due to injury.
(From Wilson Wong from UBC Sports Information) Parker Simson, set a unique mark today as this was his first basketball action with the Thunderbirds. He became the first T-Bird to play both football and basketball in the same season this century.
Last to do it for UBC was Jeff Sharma, who was on the 1997 Vanier Cup-winning football team. And then was asked to play the second half of the 1997-98 basketball season for the interim head coach Rich Chambers.
Before that, it was Wayne Osborne for the 1960-61 season.
For Simson, he dressed for seven UBC football games in the regular season as a defensive back and had one interception and three tackles (two solo, and two assists).
~ Cole Tweed, Heat Sports Information