The VIU Mariners got back to playing the way they wanted and they were able to win that way.
Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team won its PacWest season opener on Saturday night at the VIU gym, defeating the Camosun Chargers 89-77.
“It was kind of a grind-it-out game, like I thought it would be,” said Matt Kuzminski, VIU coach. “I think we’re still getting better and … it’s going to be a process all year.”
The contest was tied 40-40 at half and VIU made a conscious effort at halftime to improve its defensive intensity. Usama Zaid, VIU guard, said the Mariners started defending the way they know how, getting better with help-side defence and contesting all the Chargers’ shots.
“We made it really difficult for them to score anything and that’s when we made our run,” Zaid said. “That’s the type of team we’re trying to be this year, defensive first and then the offence will come.”
Zaid scored 38 points and led his team in rebounding, too, with 11 boards. Eric D’Andrea contibuted 13 points and Bryson Cox had 12.
VIU’s women were also winners on opening night, winning a closer game by a 53-51 score. The Mariners played with enough hustle and effort to make up for a bit of an off-night with their shooting.
VIU’s Celina Guadagni came up with a steal with two seconds left so that Camosun didn’t get a chance to attempt a game-tying or game-winning shot.
“We played hard to the end, but we can do better and we will do better in our next games…” she said. “It’s our first game of the season, we’re not going to start off perfect, but it’s a good wake-up call for us. We need to work on better shots and we need to make better decisions.”
Guadagni led her team with 18 points and Victoria Brown scored 11. Sienna Pollard had 10 rebounds and four steals.
“They didn’t give up, which is a nice thing to see,” said Franjo Crnkovic, VIU assistant coach. “They know they can be better. The girls need to hold themselves accountable for doing stuff that’s going to make themselves better and thus make the team better.”
GAME ON … VIU’s basketball teams are home again this coming weekend, hosting the Douglas Royals on Friday (Nov. 4) and the Capilano Blues on Saturday. The Mariners women play the Royals on Friday at 6 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 8 p.m. On Saturday, the ladies’ game is at 1 p.m. with the guys at 3 p.m.