A pair of losses on the road has extended the losing streaks of both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) to four games.
The KPU Eagles lost 114-70 in Vancouver Friday night to the Langara Falcons and 79-67 Saturday in New Westminster to the Douglas College Royals in a pair of PACWEST (Pacific Northwest Athletic Association) men’s games. The Eagles fell to 1-4 (won-lost) on the season, and are in a group of four teams tied for the final two playoff positions.
The women’s team also played at Langara and Douglas, falling 68-49 Friday and 61-46 on Saturday. The Eagles are also at 1-4 and alone in seventh place in the eight-team women’s league.
“This weekend, we couldn’t find any rhythm to our offense. And on defense, we needed to find more speed,” said Dan Nayebzadeh, head coach of the KPU women’s team. “If we make our lay ups and our free throws, we will win games.”
The Eagles played well enough for a win Friday against the Falcons, rallying from a 19-8 deficit after the first quarter to trail by just one at 29-28 at the half. The lead changed hands several times in the third quarter, and the two teams were tied 42-42 going into the fourth. But KPU was outscored 26-7 over the final 12 minutes and lost for the third consecutive time.
Shilpa Khanna was the top scorer for Kwantlen with 23 points. The Surrey resident also had four assists and six rebounds. Samantha McPhail contributed with seven points, a pair of assists and 11 rebounds.
In the men’s game at Langara, the KPU squad fell behind early against the PACWEST’s second-best team, trailing 32-21 after one quarter and 63-32 at the half. The Eagles began the second half with a 10-0 run, but the Falcons extended the lead back to 30 points after three periods.
“I want to applaud Spencer (Maichin), Nick (Smith), James (Bradshaw), and Obi (Udevi) for being very consistent on what we are trying to do on defense,” said KPU head coach Vladimir Nikic. “Spencer was closing out really well and putting a lot of pressure on the ball. James, Nick, and Obi were boxing out really hard and getting most of the rebounds this game.”
Brenden Bailey was the leading scorer for KPU, netting 18 points. He also added three assists and a pair of rebounds. Obi Udevi, a Panorama Ridge Secondary graduate, added 12 points from the shooting guard position, with Smith scored eight points.
“I’m pleased with the way we ran the floor today. We showed we could score against a top team in the country with 70 points. We looked like a strong team when we did that,” added Nikic. “We moved the ball well and had 16 assists, which is the most we have had this season. We played great offensively.”
Saturday in New Westminster, the KPU women fell behind early against the unbeaten Royals and couldn’t catch up.
Khanna had 15 points to again lead all scorers, while teammate Haeley Williams added five points and three rebounds. Fourth-year guard Christina Brown of Langley led the team in assists with three and shared the lead in total rebounds with Kavanagh at four.
The Eagles gave the Royals all they could handle before falling 15 points short in the men’s game. KPU led 22-18 after one quarter, but were down 44-39 at the half. Kwantlen surged ahead 62-61 early in the fourth quarter, but were outscored 18-6 over the final nine minutes of play.
Bailey ended the night with 25 points, one assist, and one rebound. Madison Cooley added nine points with first-year centre Navdeep Brar netting eight points and five rebounds. Udevi also scored eight points.
“Everyone played well as a team,” said Nikic. “They did what I asked them to do, but in the end the difference was our rebounds.
“This was the best we have played this year, I’m very proud of my guys. I’m really happy with the progress we are making everyday.”
The KPU basketball program will be collecting non-perishable food items at their home games this weekend. Fans making a food donation to the Surrey Food Bank will receive free admission.
The Camosun Chargers (2-3 women,1-4 men) are the visitors Friday, while the Vancouver Island Mariners (3-2 women, 5-0 men) are in town Saturday. Game times are 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men) Friday, and 1 p.m. (women) and 3 p.m. (men) on Saturday at the Surrey campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.