Sports

VIU clinches first place

VIU Mariners basketball player Jacob Thom, right, is fouled on his way to the hoop by UNBC Timberwolves opponent Joel Rybachuk during Saturday night’s Pacific Western Athletic Association game at the Vancouver Island University gym. VIU won 76-71. - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
VIU Mariners basketball player Jacob Thom, right, is fouled on his way to the hoop by UNBC Timberwolves opponent Joel Rybachuk during Saturday night’s Pacific Western Athletic Association game at the Vancouver Island University gym. VIU won 76-71.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Every time the VIU Mariners play the UNBC Timberwolves, M’s basketball coach Tony Bryce thinks the same thing afterward.

“That was ugly,” he mutters to himself.

“But it is because both teams are very competitive and play very hard and solid defensively and it’s a grind.”

For Mariners fans, the team’s 76-71 win over the T-wolves was a thing of beauty. Because it completed a season sweep of the squad’s toughest rivals, and assured the M’s of a first-place finish in the Pacific Western Athletic Association standings.

Saturday was the last home game of 2011-12 for VIU basketball. In front of a packed gym, the M’s men got out to a 44-33 halftime lead, but the visitors clamped down defensively in the third quarter and eventually tied things at 53-53 early in the fourth.

“I didn’t think we were real good defensively in the fourth quarter but I thought when needed, we executed offensively,” Bryce said. “So that’s a positive sign in a tight game like that, to be able to execute down the stretch.”

VIU was led by its veterans. Saturday was the final home game for graduating players Patrick McCarthy and Jacob Thom and McCarthy led his team with 18 points and eight rebounds while Thom had 17 points and eight boards.

“They both played outstanding in their final home game and hopefully we’re not done yet,” Bryce said. “Hopefully they can go out with a real bang.”

In women’s action earlier in the night, the Mariners took over first place in PacWest with a 73-57 win over the T-wolves, who had gone into the game atop the standings. The M’s women built up a double-digit lead early and were never threatened.

Jocelyn Jones scored 28 points for the Mariners, Brittany Knievel added 16 and Shayna Worthington had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Seniors Knievel and Richelle Rafnkjelson played their last home games.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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