VIU Mariners player Usama Zaid scores a layup against the Camosun Chargers during Friday’s semifinal game at PacWest provincials at the Vancouver Island University gym. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

VIU Mariners advance to PacWest gold-medal game

Men’s basketball team won its semifinal Friday, handling the Camosun Chargers 91-60

The VIU Mariners will get to play for a championship in their home gym.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team won its semifinal Friday, handling the Camosun Chargers 91-60. VIU advances to take on the Douglas Royals on Saturday, March 3 in the PacWest championship game.

In Friday night’s semi, the Mariners had a hot start, sprinting to a 19-4 lead.

“The way we got after it right away kind of set the tone and I think that was a big part of it,” said Matt Kuzminski, M’s coach.

He said he liked his team’s energy, aggression and communication.

Usama Zaid, who scored a game-high 34 points, said his team achieved a goal it had set for itself to play a full 40 minutes.

“I feel like it was great effort, intensity and togetherness from the whole team,” Zaid said.

Jerod Dorby scored 13 points to go with 11 rebounds and Bryson Cox added 11 points.

The Mariners will immediately turn their focus to the Royals, who Kuzminski said are a tough, physical, veteran group. He said the M’s will need ball pressure to disrupt the Royals’ ball movement, and said rebounding will be a key factor.

“If we do what we’re supposed to do and what we want to do at a high level, then I like our chances,” the coach said.

Zaid said whereas the Chargers are the type of team that has to run its sets to have success offensively, the Royals have some guys who can make things happen one-on-one.

“We match up good with them and they match up good with us,” Zaid said. “So our focus is to once again play great defence, have great energy and play together and I feel like if we do that, we’re a very tough team to beat for anybody.”

Earlier Friday, VIU’s women’s basketball team was edged 58-57 by the Capilano Blues in semifinal action. Emily Clarke had 18 points, 14 rebounds and eight steals for the Mariners. VIU will take on Douglas in the bronze-medal match Saturday at 1 p.m..

GAME ON … The Mariners and Royals men play the PacWest championship final at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 3 at the Vancouver Island University gym. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youths, seniors and alumni and free for children and VIU students.

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