Cruise control: T-Birds soar past winless Spartans

The UBC men’s basketball team fired on all cylinders during its convincing 118-65 victory over the Trinity Western Spartans Friday night at the War Memorial Gym.

The 'Birds have had a tendency to start slowly, hitting the snooze button until the second half begins. However, the starting lineup was locked in early on Friday night as the starters were intent on pushing the pace from the jump ball, earning transition buckets at will. Sloppy turnovers courtesy of the Spartans allowed the 'Birds to feast in the fast break, steamrolling to a 58-33 lead by halftime.

Once again, the fifth-year combination of Conor Morgan and Phil Jalalpoor spearheaded the offensive onslaught, combining for 44 points that night. Jalalpoor has been electric throughout the opening weeks of the Canada West season — his slicing baskets to start the game set the tone for a dominant victory.

With the absence of Jauquin Bennett-Boire for the game, rookie Mason Bourcier was thrust into a starting role. The Kelowna product responded with another solid outing, operating as the key distributor for solid shooting lineups and sparking the fast break offence with four steals. Although the rookie hasn’t had scoring outbursts, his mature play has earned him the trust of coach Kevin Hanson.

Luka Zaharijevic controls the ball against Trinity Western.
Luka Zaharijevic controls the ball against Trinity Western. Jeremy Johnson-Silvers

The bench unit continued to inject energy on the proceedings once it entered the game. Grant Shephard, who has emerged as the sixth man for the 'Birds, dominated en route to 19 points. The Spartans had no answer for Shephard’s size as the rookie drew foul after foul, getting to the free throw line nine times in the contest. Sharpshooter Taylor Browne added another 12 points, nine of which came from three-point range.

With the game in hand, mistakes began to creep in to UBC's performance. The structured team offense, which earned a commanding lead for three quarters, made way for individual basketball in the closing frame. If the 'Birds are serious about earning a national title, they will need to string together forty minute performances.

With the final buzzer, UBC would close out the game with an impressive 118-65 final score. They would repeat their Friday night success on Saturday, with a tamer scoreline of 84-76.

Next weekend, the 'Birds head out to Manitoba to face the Winnipeg Wesmen, playing their first game at 6 p.m. on Friday. The Wesmen sit just behind UBC in the Canada West standings, with a 5-3 record compared to the T-Birds 6-2. If the records say anything, it will be two close match-ups this weekend.