VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes leaned on three big men to split a weekend series with the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
The Vikes rallied and shutdown the Bears 64-55 on Saturday night during Canada West play at the CARSA Performance Gym.
Fifth-year forward Hayden Lejeune led the Vikes with 11 points in the first quarter, as he banged down low against Adam Paige. He also pulled down five of his 13 boards in the opening frame.
While Lejeune was held scoreless in the second, Matthew Ellis went to work with a pair of jumpers from the free throw line and added a running floater for 10 first half points.
Third-year forward Dominick Oliveri recorded only five points on five shots in the first half. He started rolling downhill towards the rim in the second half and tied Lejeune for the Vikes with 17 points. Drawing lots of contact, he went to the line 14 times and knocked down half of his attempts.
The Golden Bears kept in it by capitalizing on the Vikes mistakes. They used the 15 turnovers provided to them to score 17 points.
The Vikes 2-3 defensive zone was more effective this evening. The Golden Bears entered the weekend finale with the fourth-best shooting percentage (46.8) in the Canada West but were limited to 27.4 per cent from the floor. The Vikes stingy defence gave them a 32-19 lead at half.
Ivan Ikomey forced back-to-back turnovers for the Golden Bears to start the third quarter and cashed in with a three and a layup, which made it a nine-point game.
The Golden Bears started the second half on a 15-5 run, highlighted by a rare four-point play.
Off another offensive turnover on an interior pass by Ellis, Brandon Meiklejohn completed nailed the three and the free throw.
Cole Knudsen was one of the top performers on the Golden Bears. The fourth-year big from Barrhead, Alta., went to work down low, stayed active on the offensive glass and ended up with 10 points and 12 boards.
While the Golden Bears didn’t have two or three players carry the offensive load, everybody that checked in got at least one bucket.
Max Russell hit a three coming off the bench for the Golden Bears to make it a 10-point game with 3:30 remaining in regulation, but Scott Kellum hit an elbow jumper on the other end for the Vikes. He eventually fouled out with 10 points.
The Vikes are home next weekend to host the Brandon University Bobcats (1-4). The Golden Bears are also at home next weekend, as they host the Mount Royal University Cougars (3-1).