VIU Mariners player Anders Cederberg, middle, vies for the ball against Okanagan Coyotes opponents Nic Lafontaine, left, and Delwin Hothi during Sunday’s PacWest game at the Vancouver Island University gym. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

VIU basketball teams winners in first home games of new year

Mariners men and women sweep past Okanagan Coyotes in PacWest action in Nanaimo

VIU’s basketball teams want to be unbeatable on home court, and the first home games of the new year were an indication that the Mariners will play tough.

Vancouver Island University’s women’s and men’s basketball teams played their first PacWest home games of 2020 against the Okanagan College Coyotes on Saturday and Sunday, sweeping all four games.

The Mariners women won 80-54 in the first contest, then had similar results in the next day’s rematch, winning 83-59. The M’s men won 97-70 in Saturday’s game and 98-76 on Sunday.

Tony Bryce, coach of the VIU women, said the Okanagan opponents were a good test as they played better than their record and threw some different things at his team.

“We were very disciplined and just stuck with it and used our depth to kind of wear them out,” he said. “They weren’t relaxing wins, but they were two good, solid team wins.”

The VIU women had a couple of exhibition road trips over the holiday break in which they played high-tempo basketball against challenging opponents, said Bryce.

“It kind of carried over into the new year and that was the plan,” he said. “Now we work to get healthy and keep prepping for March.”

The Mariners are hosts of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships this year, so Bryce said the team’s main goal is to win all its games on home court. In the lead-up to the post-season, he said he wants to look for opportunities to get some key players getting used to playing 30 minutes a game, which some will need to do come playoffs.

As for VIU’s men, they rotated some new players into the lineup and the group continues to seek consistency and urgency in its game.

“We have really high standards for the group. We played well enough to win, but it’s about keeping striving,” said Matt Kuzminski, the team’s coach. “I think we have another gear as a group in how hard we play and how together we are. So we’re still building towards that.”

Guard Tori Odom and forward Greg Gillies are new to the lineup since the fall and Kuzminski said while coaches have a “clear idea” of the group of players, they still want to see the team develop a “collective toughness” for the playoffs.

Veteran Tyus Barfoot said the Mariners still have some work to do, but can have a great second semester if they keep hammering away at the small things. He said the chemistry’s good.

“We’ve got some good guys on the team and I think we all have the same goal in mind and that obviously helps speed up the process,” Barfoot said.

In Saturday’s women’s game, Danielle Vanbergen led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds. Shayce Johnston had 16 points. The next day, Johnston and Kayla Gromme scored 14 points each and Amber Lease had 12 points and seven assists.

In Saturday’s men’s game, Landon Radliff scored 20 points, Barfoot had 18 points and 13 rebounds and Odom had 18 points and 10 boards. In the rematch, Barfoot scored 30 points, Odom had 12 point and 11 rebounds and Radliff scored 18 points.

GAME ON … VIU’s women’s and men’s basketball teams visit the Capilano Blues for PacWest games Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25-26.

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