Vancouver Island University’s basketball teams are both expected to be top contenders this season. After the first weekend of league play, there’s no reason to think otherwise.
The Mariners men’s and women’s teams both swept their home openers Friday and Saturday at the VIU gym.
The men defeated the Langara Falcons 87-68 on Friday, then beat the Kwantlen Eagles 81-51 the next day. VIU’s women were 72-37 winners against Langara, and followed up with a 75-47 victory over Kwantlen.
Fans filled the stands Friday to make for a good atmosphere.
“I’m happy we got a win, especially the first one at home,” said Bill McWhinnie, coach of the VIU women. “They got the nerves out, hopefully.”
The coach said his team competed hard in the first half and played tough defence.
“We came out strong and in spurts we kind of took it to them,” said Jocelyn Jones, who scored a game-high 24 points. “We took a couple plays off and we didn’t really end strong but we won and overall we played good.”
Shayna Worthington added 13 points for VIU and she and Jones had eight rebounds each.
The highly ranked Mariners women expect that they’ll sometimes be in blowout games this season, so they’ll have to challenge themselves in those sort of games.
“No matter who we’re playing against, we have to play the way we play,” McWhinnie said. “It doesn’t matter the score or who we’re playing against.”
The men’s matchup was the more exciting game as the Mariners trailed by one point after the first quarter and were up by eight at halftime before pulling away in the third.
“We were good at times, we were sloppy at times, but that’s expected, first game of the year,” said Tony Bryce, coach of the Mariner men.
He said the Falcons were undermanned due to injury and his team was able to wear down the visitors, expecially under the baskets.
“It was kind of an ugly win I guess,” said Jacob Thom, who led all scorers with 26 points. “We didn’t come out too strong, we got beat up on the glass and we tried to correct that in the second half and I think we did a better job.”
The coach said he was pleased to see the way the Mariners were moving the ball around on Friday.
“I liked some of the unselfishness and sharing the ball tonight,” Bryce said. “Guys were making the extra pass and getting each other open looks and that’s positive. You can build off that.”
Richard Townsend Gant scored 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in the opener.
The next day, Townsend Gant had 13 points and eight boards and Harrison Stupich scored 12.
In the women’s game, Jones and Kayla Gromme scored 19 points each. Gromme also had seven steals in that one and Worthington had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
GAME ON … VIU’s basketball teams play road games Friday (Nov. 18) and Saturday at Douglas College and Columbia Bible College, respectively.