The VIU Mariners won a battle of unbeaten teams, and did it undermanned, but they know they can still be better.
Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team defeated the Quest Kermodes 84-77 on Friday night at the VIU gym.
“We’re still trying to get to the point where we can put together a consistent 40-minute effort,” said Matt Kuzminski, coach of the Mariners. “We have not had that all season.”
Friday’s game turned into something of a gut check early as VIU’s top scorer, Justin King, was injured in the first quarter and did not return.
“We have a lot of good players on the team, so when something like that happens, guys are ready to step up,” said the coach.
The M’s led by 13 points at the half, but the Kermodes chipped away and closed the deficit to two points midway through the fourth quarter.
“Coaches were just telling us to keep executing, executing, don’t get our heads out of the game, stay in the game, don’t get complacent,” said Kadeem Stewart, VIU guard.
The M’s stuck to their game, stayed calm and hit their free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
“This is helping us, these close games,” Stewart said. “As we get further into the season, I know we’re going to play better teams, there’s going to be more competition. So this is helping us in the long run.”
Still, the coach said the Mariners won’t feel like they win until they play complete basketball.
“We’re slowly getting better at offensive execution. Tonight, I don’t think that was our issue,” Kuzminski said. “It was more effort and focus on defence … It’s an issue that could be a really big problem if we don’t get better at it.”
Stewart led the team with 20 points and six rebounds. Chris Parker scored 15 points and Jason Fortin scored 13.
Earlier that night, VIU’s women’s basketball team was defeated by Quest, 64-51. Sienna Pollard scored 24 points and Emily Clarke added seven.
GAME ON … The Mariners men’s and women’s basketball teams host the Capilano Blues on Saturday (Nov. 15). The women’s game tips off at 1 p.m. at the VIU gym, followed by men’s action at 3 p.m.