After opening their PACWEST (Pacific Western Athletic Conference) season with wins on the road, the Kwantlen Polytechnic (KPU) Eagles men’s and women’s basketball teams were each winless in their first two home games of the season on the Surrey campus.
The Eagles lost their men’s games 77-67 Friday night to the Capilano Blues and 76-45 to the Quest Kermodes on Saturday. The women were edged 69-62 by the Blues in North Vancouver, and lost 63-59 to Quest in Squamish.
“We need to learn to do our job completely,” said KPU men’s head coach Vladimir Nikic after his team was outscored by 41 in the two games. “In other words, we need to have everyone play with energy.”
Brendan Bailey paced the Eagles against Capilano, as the first-year guard netted 29 points. Lord Tweedsmuir graduate and first-year forward Nick Smith added 15 points, while forward Trevor Schulz was the top rebounder with eight.
The Blues led 18-11, 38-26 and 60-47 at the quarter-breaks.
KPU fell behind early and never recovered against the Kermodes, trailing 17-6 after one quarter and 29-18 at halftime.
Bailey was again the top scoring threat for the Eagles with 23 points/ Matt Cooley contributed seven points and 10 rebounds.
The weekend started very well for the Eagles women, who scored the first eight points of the game against Capilano and led 13-11 after one quarter. They maintained a two-point advantage at halftime with a 30-28 lead, and went into the final quarter tied 47-47 before the game slipped away.
“I thought we played a competitive game that saw everyone contribute, but we need to do the little things right,” said Eagles head coach Dan Nayebzadeh. “We are competitive and talented but we need to go back to being solid in fundamentals which means stick to what works, stick to our strengths.”
Fleetwood Park Secondary graduate Shilpa Khanna was the leading scorer for KPU with 20 points. Christina Brown, a fourth-year guard from Langley, added 17 points with Amber-Lee Kavanagh netting nine. Samantha McPhail was the top rebounder with seven.
Against the Kermodes, KPU erased a 32-28 halftime deficit to take a 44-42 lead into the final period, but ran into foul trouble and came up four points short.
“Similar to yesterday, we competed for most of the game, but then at times we lost some crucial battles that led to turnovers and points against us,” said Nayebzadeh after the game. .”We just need to build on our momentum and believe that we can be as good as anybody in this league.”
Khanna again led KPU in scoring with 15 points, followed by Haeley Williams with 12. Kavanagh had 11 rebounds.
With both teams now at 1-2 (won-lost) early in the 21-game season, the Eagles teams will be on the road for a pair of games next weekend against the Langara Falcons (0-3 women, 2-1 men) Friday night in Vancouver and Douglas College Royals (3-0 women, 1-2 men) Saturday in New Westminster.