UNBC defeats Vancouver Island in defensive war to claim PacWest gold

As the VIU Mariners and UNBC Timberwolves stepped onto the hardwood inside Capilano University’s Sportsplex, all outside factors – rankings, statistics, experience and history – were abandoned at the front doors.

When stripped down to it’s rawest form, the men’s PacWest gold medal game on Saturday night was a gritty melee full of emotion; one that featured two elite teams looking to end the debate of who truly is B.C.’s best in 2012.

In a contest that had no buzzer beater finishes, no lead changes and no ties after the 0-0 tipoff, it was still as exciting as they come, with UNBC pulling out a 69-61 victory to capture gold and claim their spot in the CCAA National Championships.

“When you’re going to win championships, you got to play defence,” said Timberwolves head coach Todd Jordan. “We kept them from getting a lot of easy stuff, we followed the defensive game plan really really well, and now we’re champions and it feels pretty good.”

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UNBC and VIU set to meet in PacWest final for third-straight year

VIU Mariners guard Brandon Jones sets his eyes on the hoop - and Saturday's final - after beating Capilano in the semis on Friday night. - Brian Jones Photo

If you look at the tournament draw for the PacWest men’s basketball playoffs, it probably won’t be surprising to see that the Vancouver Island University Mariners (VIU) and the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves (UNBC) will be playing for gold tonight.

They finished the regular season with the two best records, VIU at 15-1 and UNBC 13-3. They boast the two most experienced starting lineups with a combined 39 collegiate seasons between the two.

They’ve also been in this same situation for the past two years, with UNBC coming out on top in 2010 – going on to win gold at nationals – and VIU prevailing last year – claiming CCAA bronze.

But regular season accomplishments, veteran experience, and a successful past doesn’t pave the way to the provincial finals. These two teams had to go to war with two formidable foes to reach their primetime matchup on Saturday night.

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UNBC ends Kwantlen’s playoff hopes

UNBC forward Dennis Stark maneuvers around Kwantlen’s Ali Bosir, attempting a tough finger roll. Stark had 14 on the night. – Brian Jones Photo

One team, a perennial provincial power, entered the year’s final regular season game with a daunting 12-3 record. They had won a double-overtime game the night before, cementing their second-place spot in the standings and securing an automatic bye for the first round of the approaching playoffs.

The other, a team who won just one league game the previous year, entered the match having won four of their last five. They had two options: win the game in upsetting fashion and clinch the league’s sixth and final playoff spot, or lose, and end their season prematurely.

In a convincing 92-72 victory, the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves reaffirmed their confidence heading into the postseason, while the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles were forced to exercise the undesirable second option.

Continue reading at North Pole Hoops.