The Northwest University Eagles took top spot the Honda Way Men’s Basketball Tournament, knocking off the host UFV Cascades 86-81 in the finale on Saturday evening.
The Cascades led 37-31 at halftime, but the NAIA squad from Kirkland, Wash. caught fire in the third quarter, out-scoring UFV 31-12 in the frame.
“We lost by 19 in the third quarter, and that was the game,” Cascades coach Barnaby Craddock noted. “You’ve got to credit them – they’re a talented team, and they were at their national tournament last year. I think that experience showed for them in the third quarter.”
The Eagles’ surge started with red-hot shooting from beyond the arc – Jordan Call (20 points) and Tyler Mendoza (19 points) each drained four three-pointers for Northwest.
UFV trailed by as many as 16 points, but the offence came alive in the final frame, and they made a spirited rally behind a trio of fourth-quarter treys from backup point guard Sheldon Bjorgaard.
The Cascades got back to within six points, but they couldn’t come up with the defensive stops they needed. As UFV stretched its defence to the perimetre to address Northwest’s three-point shooting, it opened up seams for the Eagles to get into the paint.
Sam Freeman led the Cascades with 24 points, while Bjorgaard, James York and Jasper Moedt notched 10 points apiece.
“I was happy with how we battled in the fourth quarter,” Craddock said. “It was too big a hole, but it was good for us to be in a tight, close game like that. With league play coming up, we need that pressure-type experience.”
In Friday’s action, Northwest had crushed Thompson Rivers University 93-65, while the Cascades downed the Guelph Gryphons 94-76. Saturday’s early game saw TRU edge Guelph 92-85.
Michael Greene of the Eagles was named MVP of the Cascades’ inaugural preseason tourney, while Northwest’s Call, UFV’s Freeman and Joel Friesen, Guelph’s Daniel McCarthy and TRU’s Chas Kok were selected as all-stars.
• The UFV men’s and women’s basketball teams open the Canada West regular season on the road this weekend against TRU in Kamloops.