(with files from CIS)
VANCOUVER (CIS) – Despite a terrific performance from the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack, Caleb Agada and his reigning CIS Silver Medallist Ottawa Gee-Gees proved too much on Friday night, escaping with a 78-77 win in the first consolation semifinal of the 2016 CIS Men’s Basketball National Championships.
With Ottawa up by one Reese Pribilsky had a shot to win the contest for the WolfPack with eight seconds remaining, but the fifth-year guard’s step back jumper fell short.
Without current CIS Player of the Year Mike L’Africain in the lineup due to injury, Agada took center stage, notching a game-high 24 points, including Ottawa’s final four of the game. Agada also tallied seven rebounds, and four assists. Second-year forward Mackenzie Morrison had 15 points for the Gee-Gees, going 4-of-8 from downtown
Ottawa head coach James Derouin noted that the decision to play a starting fivesome of guys that are eligible for next year’s roster was a calculated decision with the team out of medal contention.
“The young guys looked engaged, and looked ready, and we’re focusing on 2016-17. Calvin [Epistola] was excellent tonight at the point guard, Brandon [Robinson], and Caleb, and [Matt] Plunkett, and Brody [Maracle], those are all major, major parts for us moving forward next year. We talked about it before - this is game one for next year, and I thought that’s how they played, and I’m proud of them.”
Vladimir Iegorov was the focal point of the Thompson Rivers offense, posting 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-6 from distance. First-Team Canada West All-Star Josh Wolfram picked up a double-double, notching 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Luke Morris chipped in with 15.
“I’m proud of my guys,” said WolfPack head coach Scott Clark. “There’s a lot of emotion that left the building when we lost, so to come back and give a pretty good effort shows some character from the guys, and I’m proud of that.
The first quarter was one of extremes. Down 9-8, Ottawa ripped off a 14-0 run, including a stretch of four straight three-pointers, three of which came Morrison.
The WolfPack came back in a big way, putting up 11 straight points of their own, with Wolfram notching four his team-high seven points during the stretch, as TRU closed Ottawa’s lead to 22-20 by the end of the frame.
Iegorov began to pick it up for the WolfPack as the second quarter stretched on, with the big Ukrainian import picking up five points. More than the offensive contributions, the 6-foot-7 forward seemed to impose his will down low, collecting four rebounds in the second stanza alone.
On the other end, reigning CIS Defensive Player of the Year Agada who showed off his offensive touch for the Gee-Gees. The Ottawa guard notched six points to lead all scorers in the second quarter, as Ottawa maintained a slight advantage by the end of the opening half, up 40-37.
Agada and Iegorov continued to duel in the third frame, with TRU’s Second Team Canada West All-Star getting the better of his Ottawa counterpart. Iegorov showed a variety of moves and brute strength in his 10-point third quarter, and on back-to-back triples from him and Wolfram, the WolfPack ended the frame on a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the game since the first quarter, up 60-59.
The fourth quarter saw the two teams go shot-for-shot in a game that didn’t seem like a consolation matchup. Thompson Rivers continued to light it up from distance, scoring their first 12 points of the quarter from three-point land.
Meanwhile, Ottawa turned to Agada inside, before Brandon Robinson and Matt Plunkett knocked down a pair of back-to-back treys of their own, and the game sat at 72-72 with just under five minutes remaining.
OTT 22-18-19-19: 78
TRU 20-17-23-17: 77
Points: Caleb Agada (24), Mackenzie Morrison (16)
Rebounds: Brody Maracle (8)
Assists: Matt Plunkett (4), Calvin Epistola (4), Nathan McCarthy (4)
Player of the game: Caleb Agada
Points: Volodymyr Iegorov (21), Luke Morris (15), Josh Wolfram (14)
Rebounds: Josh Wolfram (14)
Assists: Reese Pribilsky (4)
Player of the game: Volodymyr Iegorov