Mariners men three-peat as champions

VIU’s men win gold, women earn bronze at PacWest tournament in Squamish.

The VIU Mariners are best in the PacWest again.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team won the Pacific Western Athletic Association championship on Saturday in Squamish, defeating the Capilano Blues 94-77.

“There’s an intangible sense of togetherness and the belief they have,” said Matt Kuzminski, VIU coach. “There’s a little something there that is special about this group.”

The gold-medal final was tied 40-40 at halftime, but the Mariners outscored the opposition 32-16 in the third quarter and maintained control.

The previous night, VIU’s men defeated the Douglas Royals 86-71.

“Both nights were very tough games, but I thought our guys battled through some nerves and [in] games were we didn’t necessarily execute the best, they stayed with it defensively,” said Kuzminski. “We were able to put up a few stretches where we were really good defensively and we kind of broke the game open.”

Usama Zaid scored 24 points in the final, Bryson Cox had 19 points and nine rebounds and Jalen Schlegel added 17 points.

The night before, Zaid scored 33 points and Schlegel had 14 points and nine boards.

Zaid was selected tournament MVP and Schlegel was an all-star.

The Mariners men qualify for the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships at P.E.I.’s Holland College from March 16-18.

Meanwhile, VIU’s women won bronze at provincials.

The Mariners started the tourney with a victory, defeating the Langara Falcons 73-64, but fell 56-43 to the eventual tournament-champion Royals 56-43 in the semis. VIU ended with a 79-57 win over the Camosun Chargers in the bronze-medal game.

Sienna Pollard had 23 points and 10 rebounds in her final PacWest game and was chosen an all-star; Celina Guadagni had 19 points and 10 boards in the bronze-medal game.

Emily Clarke scored 20 in the opener and Kaitlyn Lafontaine added 18.

Pollard scored 14 in the semis.

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