CJ Pentland, CapU Sports Information Director / Photos Paul Yates, Vancouver Sports Pictures
After a slow start to the game, the Capilano University Blues ramped up their defensive pressure to deliver a 76-69 come-from-behind victory over Victoria’s Camosun College Chargers on Thursday evening at Quest University, booking their ticket to the PACWEST Provincial semifinals.
Both teams struggled to find their footing out of the get-go, with several turnovers on both sides making for a choppy start to the game. After a Chris Loreth basket right off the bat, Capilano struggled to develop anything on offence, as they had just three more field goals in the frame and failed to get to the foul line. Camosun got off to a rough start as well, but eventually took advantage of Cap’s turnovers and opened up a 16-9 lead after one quarter of play.
A new Blues team emerged in the second quarter, reminiscent of the one that started the season 8-1. After the Chargers increased their lead to 11, Cap ramped up their defensive pressure with a full court zone press, and went with a smaller lineup that threw Camosun off their game. The activity on defence led to a total of 12 first-half Camosun turnovers, and translated into several fast-break scores and more open shots on the offensive end. The Blues drained five threes en route to 30 points in the frame, and they quickly erased the double-digit deficit and were up 39-31 at the half.
Capilano kept up their strong play out of the break, increasing their lead to nine. Point guard and PACWEST Rookie of the Year Wowie Untalan continued to push the tempo on offence, as he capped off the period with a strong drive to the hoop that kept his team up by six after three quarters.
The Chargers slowly cut into the Cap lead with their three-point shooting, but the Blues continued to stay ahead with fast-break scores and timely three-pointers. Each time Camosun made it a one-possession game, a different player stepped up for the Blues to re-establish a more comfortable margin: Hassan Phills knocking down a three, EJ Mabone driving hard to the hoop and completing a three-point play, Greet Gill making a steal that led to a lay-up in transition.
Capilano’s biggest possession came with just under two minutes to go. Camosun had the ball and again only trailed by two, but Phills, who after coming off the bench midway through the first quarter seemed to be all over the court, came up with another steal and led to a fast break that put Cap up 73-69. Capilano picked Camosun’s pocket again on their next possession, and didn’t let them score over the rest of the way en route to a 76-69 victory.
Phills was named Player of the Game, as the fourth-year guard complemented his strong defensive effort with 23 points – shooting 7-of-13 from the field, 6-of-8 from the free throw line, and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Gill stepped up consistently throughout the game to tally 15 points, five rebounds, and three steals, while Mabone also picked up three steals to go along with his 12 points. The first-year Untalan backed up his Rookie of the Year honour, playing over 35 minutes and finishing with 12 points, six assists, and five rebounds.
As a team, Capilano held Camosun to 35.6% shooting from the field in the contest, and forced the Chargers into 24 turnovers.
The Blues now take on the #2 seed Langara College Falcons in the semifinals, a team they’ve played tough all season long. Capilano took game one of their season series 107-101, but Langara won the next two meetings in games that were both close into the fourth quarter.
Tip-off is at 3:00 at Quest University in Squamish, with the winner advancing to Saturday’s Provincial Final. The game can be seen online at pacwestbc.tv.