Sports

VIU hoops teams try to stay on a high

VIU Mariners guard Usama Zaid, left, scores overtop of a Columbia Bible College Bearcats opponent during Friday night’s PacWest game at the Vancouver Island University gym. - GREG SAKAKI / The News Bulletin
VIU Mariners guard Usama Zaid, left, scores overtop of a Columbia Bible College Bearcats opponent during Friday night’s PacWest game at the Vancouver Island University gym.
— image credit: GREG SAKAKI / The News Bulletin

Every game is helping the VIU Mariners as they drive closer toward playoff basketball.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s and women’s b-ball teams scored home-court victories on Friday, with the women pulling away to beat the Columbia Bible College Bearcats 79-64 and the men doing the same in a 96-73 affair.

For the men, it was a better performance than the night before, when they outlasted the Camosun Chargers 87-79 in Victoria.

“[That] night it was kind of a grinding road game. It was a little tough and we didn’t play as good as we could have,” said Usama Zaid, VIU guard. “But tonight we came and we picked it up and we played a lot better defence and moved a lot better in transition.”

Matt Kuzminski, Mariners coach, said his team needs to do some things better as far as ball handling and defensive rebounding, but said he’s seeing real improvement in other areas.

“It’s really showing as one of our strengths, pushing the ball, attacking in transition,” he said. “When we play like that we’re really unselfish and the ball gets going side to side and I think we look really good offensively.”

Zaid scored 34 points while Bryson Cox contributed 16 points and Morgan Proctor added 12.

Kuzminski said his team is looking forward to the next games on the schedule, road tests against the Langara Falcons on Friday (Feb. 3) and then the Quest Kermodes on Saturday.

“Wins are tough to come by at Langara. They’re well-coached and they play a fast style that’s difficult to guard. But it’ll be exciting,” he said.

Zaid said the Mariners will continue to focus more on their own game than the opposition. He said his team doesn’t want to win games just on its skill alone, but wants to win by playing to the best of its abilities.

Heading into a matchup against Langara, he expects his team to raise its game.

“Going into crowded gyms, rowdy gyms and playing against better opponents, we have more of a focus going in, and mainly defensively, because we know we can score,” Zaid said. “We’ve got a great scoring team. We’ve got a lot of different guys that can score, so if we lock up, we can pretty much beat anybody.”

As for VIU’s women, their win against CBC came by an identical score as the previous night’s win over Camosun.

Victoria Brown paced the Mariners in Friday’s victory with 18 points. Celina Guadagni had 16 points, six assists and six steals, Emily Clarke scored 14 points, Chantal Went chipped in 12 points and Sienna Pollard had 12 rebounds.

GAME ON … Following this coming weekend’s road trip, the Mariners basketball teams will be back home Feb. 10-11 to play the Capilano Blues and the Douglas Royals, respectively.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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