The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team is headed to the U SPORTS National Championships, after defeating the host University of Alberta for their first Canada West gold medal in seven years.
The Vikes captured the title by downing the Golden Bears 70-64 in a tight championship final Saturday (March 19) in Edmonton. The win was the 19th in a row for UVic and marked the first loss of the season for Alberta, a point not lost on Vikes forward Matthew Ellis, who finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
“This game is something we look forward to all year. Alberta was undefeated and we were looking to come in here and shake things up,” he said in a release. “Our group is just so special, one through 15, we just grinded together and this is what it is all about – having fun and enjoying what we do.”
While the Golden Bears led 28-26 at the half and 40-35 midway through the the third quarter, the Vikes went on a 17-2 run to build their biggest lead of the game, 52-42 following four straight Diego Maffia free throws to wind up the period.
The Bears rebounded to make it a three point game, 59-56, with less than five minutes, but some timely baskets and solid defence allowed the Vikes to keep Alberta from getting any closer.
A final free throw from Scott Kellum – the Vikes top scorer in the game with 20 points – wound up the scoring for UVic, which brought home the Canada West banner for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
The Vikes now await seeding for the U SPORTS National Championships, set for April 1 to 3 back in Edmonton.
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