KAMLOOPS, B.C. (from TRU WolfPack) – The Brandon University Bobcats have qualified for the Canada West men’s basketball playoffs as the #12 seed. The Bobcats needed a victory on the final night of the regular season and they got it defeating the host Thompson Rivers University WolfPack 66-57. The game was played on the Warner Rentals court at the Tournament Capital Centre on Saturday night.
The WolfPack had already qualified for the post-season.
TRU was outscored in every quarter except the third. The teams were tied at 19 after the first quarter.
Brandon was led by Jonathan Range (3rd year, guard, Harlem, N.Y.) with 26 points. TRU’s main gunner was Joe Davis (3rd year, forward, Kamloops, B.C.) with 23.
The game marked the final home regular season career game for Luke Morris. The fifth-year forward from Mission, B.C. had 12 rebounds (11 on defense) and seven points.
TRU will face the University of Regina Cougars in a one-game play-in series next week in Saskatchewan. That game will go Thursday night (Feb. 8) at 7 p.m. CDT. Brandon will visit the University of Manitoba on Friday (Feb. 9). That will be a 7:30 p.m. start time CDT.
With their slim playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Bobcats got off to an early lead. The WolfPack took the lead but Tyvon Cooper (4th year, guard, Middletown, N.Y.) shot a buzzer beater to tie things up at 19. Cooper had 11 points in that opening period to lead all scorers. Joe Davis (3rd year, forward, Kamloops, BC) paced the WolfPack with seven.
The second quarter totally belonged to the Bobcats. They outscored the Pack 17-7 en route to a 36-26 lead. Brandon out-rebounded Thompson Rivers 12-7. Range had six points while Cooper chipped in with five to give him a game high 16 at the half. Davis was the top point-getter for Thompson Rivers with 11 at the break.
The third quarter saw the Pack outgun the Bobcats 16-14 to cut the deficit to 50-42. Range had eight points for Brandon while Davis had 10 points for TRU to give him a game-high 21 at the time. Brandon out-rebounded TRU 17-12 while the WolfPack defense improved and turned over the ball once in the quarter compared to three times for the Bobcats.
In the fourth, Morris canned a three with five minutes left to pull the Pack within five 54-49. With the Pack down by four with less than two minutes left, former TRU player Troy Grant (3rd year, guard, Brampton, Ont.) scored two key baskets to keep Brandon in the lead (62-56).
TRU Head Coach Scott Clark
On the Contest: “I thought we played well. Don’t mistake shooting well with playing well. I wasn’t pleased with the second quarter. We got away with who we are and what we are. We didn’t do a great job of execution and that led to them getting some easy baskets. Other than that, I can’t complain. I think we got some good looks. We still had a chance to win. Today was playoff basketball. It is a grinding affair. I thought we ground it out. We missed a lot of easy baskets. When that happens, you don’t win. If we shoot the ball better there might have been a different result.”
TRU Forward Luke Morris (5th year, Mission, B.C.)
On game: “I thought we executed well in some parts. In the second quarter we got away from who we are and did a little too much. We didn’t shoot the best today but you don’t have win. We have the playoffs ahead and that is what we have to look forward to.”
On playing Regina: “We played them in the preseason early. They had some injuries. We will just have to practice hard and analyze some tape. They have a good transition game.”
Brandon head coach Gil Cheung (8th season)
On making the playoffs: “Our guys had a hell of a performance tonight. We toughed it out. We had our butts handed to us last night. We came out with some grit and toughness. I think we played with a level of urgency and desperation. Every position was grind it out. It was a playoff game out there. They are a well-coached team and played really hard. I thought Jon Range had a great game for us. He was in foul trouble but manned up down the stretch on both ends of the court.”
The WolfPack and Bobcats will both make the playoffs and have play in games next week.
The Player of the Game was Morris, who was honored before the game as the WolfPack’s lone fifth year player. Brandon had one fifth year on its roster: forward John Paul from Bexon, Saint Lucia.