Team’s spirited first half not enough against VIU Mariners
For at least one half, the Capilano Blues men’s basketball team hung tight with the two-time defending champions, Vancouver Island University Mariners. The Blues entered the halftime break sitting on a 40-40 tie against the Mariners, but once the baskets switched, the veteran team took control of the game and eventually, pulled away with a 94-77 victory.
The Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) men’s basketball gold medal match started off with a bang, as both teams came out the gates playing with a frenetic pace. Blues forward and First Team All-Star Greet Gill quickly established his presence against the Mariners. As he’s done all season long, Gill dominated the boards and played with vigour in the paint. Although he wasn’t among the tallest players on the court, Gill was able to use his strength, guile and crafty in-between game to get some high percentage baskets for the Blues.
Also impressive early on was Rookie of the Year winner Wowie Untalan. The lightning-fast point guard kept the Mariners’ defence on its heels as he got from end-to-end with ease. Armed with a vicious crossover, Untalan proved to be more than capable of getting to the paint during half-court sets. Yet the most impressive aspect of Untalan’s performance in the first half had nothing to do with his blazing speed – it was his maturity and work as a floor general. After missing a few early three-pointers, the score-first guard switched to a facilitator mentality and kept the Blues offence humming to a tune. He made smart passes in transition and created easy looks for the Blues big men with his timely drop-off passes.
On the defensive end, the Blues held the Mariners’ offence with their sharp rotation and work on the glass. Much of the credit on defence goes to the tandem of EJ Mabone and Hassan Phills, who took turns guarding PACWEST Player of the Year and scoring leader, Usama Zaid. Phills also shined on the offensive end, knocking down two early three-pointers and providing the Blues with an unrelenting supply of energy.
For the Blues, the second half was an entirely different story.
Mariners fifth-year guard and defensive ace Kaz Kobayashi opened the third period with back-to-back three-pointers that ultimately snowballed into an all-out Mariners attack. Not only did Zaid finally get going, but back up guard Trevor Davidson terrorized the Blues with his potent outside shooting – pushing the Mariners lead to 16.
On the Blues end, not much was going either. The Mariners made adjustments that hindered Untalan’s drives to baskets and their rotations were much sharper, essentially allowing very little open outside shot attempts for the Blues. For much of the third, the Blues’ only viable scoring option was Gill, who managed to produce against the Mariners’ defence using his face-up game.
The Blues did eventually regain some momentum behind a pesky full-court press by Mabone and Phills, but the game was already decided by then.
Gill finished the game with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Untalan just fell short of a double-double with 12 points and nine assists. Once again coming off the bench, Phills continued his string of excellent string of playoff games, putting up 21 points and four rebounds.
Both Gill and Phills were named to the PACWEST Tournament All-Stars after the medal presentation.
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