A very young men’s basketball team Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) erased a 10-point halftime deficit and went on to an 84-82 win Friday over the Columbia Bible College (CBC) Bearcats in the first game of their Pacific Northwest (PACWEST) Conference season.
With eight first-year players on their 12-man roster, the KPU Eagles trailed the Bearcats 37-27 at halftime then put up 31 points in the third quarter to take a 58-57 lead into the final period. The lead changed hands 10 times in the final period, but the Eagles got the road win, and a first-ever victory for rookie head coach Vladimir Nikic.
“We showed that we can be mentally tough. We were down in the first half but we were able to adjust and in the second half we played with more integrity,” said Nikic, “I’m happy with the end result, again it was the mental toughness that helped to get us through. Everyone played really well, and overall it was a team win.”
Delta’s Matt Cooley, one of the rookies on the team, netted 20 points and added 13 rebounds. Second-year guard and Panorama Ridge Secondary graduate Obi Udevi also had 20 points and added nine rebounds, with Brendan Bailey tallying 12 points.
Jaiten Rana, a Delview Secondary graduate, contributed 11 points while Trevor Schultz snared nine defensive rebounds.
A huge third quarter was also the key to a 63-43 win by the KPU Eagles women’s team Friday at CBC. Leading 24-19 at the half, KPU outscored their hosts 24-11 in the third period to take a 48-30 advantage into the fourth.
Second-year Eagles guard and Fleetwood Park graduate Shilpa Khanna was the top scorer for KPU with 14 points, with Amelia Worrell adding 11 and third-year guard Haeley Williams scoring nine. Amber-Lee Kavanagh was the top rebounder with seven, one more than teammate Samantha McPhail.
“We have to gel as a team now after a lot of change since the preseason,” said Eagles head coach Dan Nayebzadeh. “In the first half, we felt our way through some trouble and then came around in the second. We were positive with ourselves and when we do that we play better.”
Both teams will play twice at the Surrey campus this week, hosting the Capilano Blues Friday night at the Quest Kermodes on Saturday. Women’s games start at 6 p.m. both nights, followed by the men at 8 p.m. Fans bringing a non-perishable food item to either game will be admitted free as part of a KPU food drive for the Surrey Food Bank.