VIU Mariners keep up with NCAA's NSU Demons

Northwestern State University Demons player Marvin Frazier, left, defends against Vancouver Island University Mariners opponent Brandon Jones during Tuesday’s exhibition game at the VIU gym.  - GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin
Northwestern State University Demons player Marvin Frazier, left, defends against Vancouver Island University Mariners opponent Brandon Jones during Tuesday’s exhibition game at the VIU gym.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

To view a slideshow of photos from Tuesday's basketball game, please click here.

The VIU Mariners left their American visitors with a good impression of Canadian basketball.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s hoops team lost 89-71 to the Northwestern State University Demons on Tuesday at the VIU gym.

The Nanaimo team had the game tied 19-19 and brought it as close as 43-39 late in the second quarter before the visitors from Natchitoches, La., pulled away in the third.

“VIU was very good. They played very good, they had a good crowd, everyone came out and supported them,” said Shamir Davis, Demons guard. “They gave us a good test early. We needed to run like this.”

The game at VIU was NSU’s second exhibition of its tour; the NCAA Div. 1 team defeated Squamish’s Quest Kermodes 105-40 on Sunday.

“Regardless of the opponent or the level of play, we still want to win, that’s the main priority,” Davis said. “Any gym you go into, you want to win.”

He said his team did a better job at hitting its open shots and finishing its inside looks in the second half.

The Demons also had to adjust to a more physical style of play than they expected.

“Canadian basketball, I love it. I really can’t complain … this is great,” Davis said. “We really need this early because if we can play through this contact, we can play down the stretch.”

The Mariners, too, took a lot out of Tuesday’s matchup.

“Guys came out, they played hard, they played unselfishly,” said Matt Kuzminski, coach of the VIU men. “I thought we communicated well which is going to be a big focus for us.”

He said his players kept the game simple and didn’t seem to be overly intimidated against a higher-calibre opponent.

M’s forward Greg Gillies said he was happy with everyone’s effort.

“We had a good focus going into the game. We didn’t take it as just an exhibition, we kind of wanted to prove something,” he said. “It’s always nice when the States come in because you’ve never really played the competition before, you always think they’re better than a lot of teams up here. We wanted to just compete and give the best effort we could.”

It resulted in a good game that helped make the travellers’ B.C. tour even more special.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said James Hulbin, Demons forward.

COURT SHORTS … Gillies was VIU’s top scorer with 20 points, Jon Bethell scored 14 and Clayton Billett added 13. For NSU, Hulbin and Jalan West had 21 points each and Davis scored 15 … For a slideshow of action photos from the game, click here … Immediately following Tuesday's game, there was a rematch featuring more younger players and depth players. NSU beat VIU 39-34 in that 20-minute contest … The Mariners face another NCAA Div. 1 team, the Cal State Northridge Matadors, on Wednesday (Aug. 22) at 6 p.m. at the VIU gym.

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