VIU basketball looking to finish strong

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island University's basketball teams will host Columbia Bible College and Kwantlen.

Vancouver Island University’s basketball teams have shown that they’re championship contenders. All they need this weekend are a few more home-court cheers to speed them on their way.

The Mariners b-ball teams conclude the regular season with home game against the Columbia Bible College Bearcats on Friday (Feb. 15) at the VIU gym and then the Kwantlen Eagles on Saturday.

The Mariners’ men’s basketball team (14-5) will finish second in the Pacific Western Athletic Association standings no matter what, while the M’s women (13-6) will have a chance to claim second place if they win at least one of their games.

VIU’s women are ablaze after winning both their games over the long weekend including a 59-42 victory Saturday over the first-placed Capilano Blues. Heather McCarthy said her team did a good job of sticking together and bringing a 40-minute effort.

“We just sort of grinded it out,” she said. “It was weird because we won by 17 but it didn’t feel like that much, playing. We played hard to the end.”

It’s the second time this semester that VIU has defeated Cap convincingly, so the M’s are confident. A couple more wins this weekend would help them carry that energy toward provincials.

“We’re definitely excited to end our season at home,” McCarthy said. “It’s going to be good.”

VIU’s men have a bit of a different challenge this weekend. The outcomes won’t affect the M’s in the standings, but the opponents have something to play for.

“Both these teams coming in, they’ve got to win both their games,” said Matt Kuzminski, VIU coach. “It’s going to be a great test: can we match their intensity? Can we outwork them?”

Since the Mariners have already clinched their playoff seed, they might as well concern themselves with playing playoff-calibre basketball this weekend. Brandon Jones, VIU guard, said the team can’t help but think about the upcoming provincial championships.

“Of course you’re thinking about the playoffs. You already mark it up to see who you’re going to play first round, who’s going to be there,” he said. “But I feel like if we take care of business and do what we’re supposed to do then we’ll be fine.”

And that means closing out the PacWest schedule with two more good games this weekend.

“I feel like we need to win both of them and keep pushing forward to our main goal,” said Jones.

VIU’s men lost 85-76 to Quest last Friday but responded Saturday with a 105-46 blowout of Capilano. In the first game Jones scored 16 points and Ryan Davidson scored 14. The following afternoon Jones scored 29 points to go with nine rebounds and Davidson supplied 20 points.

The Mariners women beat Quest 61-45 the night before the win over Cap. In Friday’s matchup Jocelyn Jones scored 20 points as she went 15-for-16 from the free-throw stripe. Shayna Worthington pulled down 11 rebounds. Against the Blues Jones scored 23 points, McCarthy scored 12 and Worthington scored 11.

GAME ON … This Friday (Feb. 15) the Mariners women’s basketball team plays the CBC Bearcats at 6 p.m. at the VIU gym, followed by the men’s game at 8 p.m. On Saturday the M’s ladies tip off against Kwantlen Eagles at 1 p.m. and the men go at 3 p.m. … Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and alumni, $2 for students and free for kids nine and under.

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