Defence leads Cap to PACWEST finals

CJ Pentland, CapU Sports Information Director / Photos Paul Yates, Vancouver Sports Pictures

With one of their best defensive performances of the season, the Capilano University Blues took down the #2 seeded Langara College Falcons in the semifinals of the PACWEST Provincial Tournament at Quest University, and advanced to Saturday's championship final.

Both teams got off to a slow start on offence, with Capilano taking awhile to adjust to Langara's zone defence. Each side turned the ball over several times and committed numerous open-court fouls in the early-going before Langara found success with their fast break and got out to an early lead.

Much like yesterday's quarterfinal win over Camosun, a strong second quarter proved pivotal for Capilano. Trailing 16-14 after one period of play, Cap ramped up their intensity on both ends of the court and went on a 11-0 run to start the second quarter. Langara called a quick timeout, but Cap kept up the pressure to go up 36-29 after 20 minutes. Hassan Phills and Mo Karimirad both hit thee-pointers on back-to-back possessions of different points of the frame, and Chris Loreth used a soft touch in the paint to score 10 points in the half. 

The Blues dominated on the glass, grabbing 11 offensive rebounds in the first half and turning them into 12 second-chance points, and they out-rebounded Langara 33-16 overall. Cap also held Langara to just 28.6% shooting from the field and an 18.2% mark from beyond the arc.

Langara responded out of halftime, quickly cutting the deficit to one and forcing a Cap timeout. Yet head coach Cassidy Kannemeyer’s words sparked the Blues, as Greet Gill hit a three on their next possession and Cap quickly built up a 16-point lead – with steal and slam by Gill on the fast-break putting an exclamation point on a third quarter that ended with the Blues up 57-43.

Capilano kept up the pressure in the fourth quarter, not allowing Langara much space on offence and continuing to win the rebounding battle. The Falcons cut back into the lead to bring the deficit back to double-digits, but an EJ Mabone triple pushed Cap’s lead back to 11.

Langara refused to go away quietly, but Capilano’s rebounding and their ability to take care of the basketball allowed them to keep it a multi-possession game. With 1:02 left Jesse Mushiana sank a put-back layup to push Cap’s lead back to nine, and after Langara sank a couple baskets to keep the game in question, Wowie Untalan’s ability to break their full-court press kept the game in control. After some crucial free throws, Capilano closed out the impressive 68-63 win. 

Gill was named Player of the Game for Capilano, recording a double double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Phills again came off the bench and was all over the court, tallying 15 points and eight rebounds while allowing Langara little room on defence. Loreth also hit double figures with 12 points along with eight rebounds.

As a team, the Blues held Langara to well below their season average of 88.5 points per game - largely thanks to 33.8% shooting from the field and a 18.5% mark from beyond the arc. They out-rebounded the Falcons 61-39, and allowed just nine offensive rebounds.

Capilano advances to their first PACWEST Provincial Final since 2004, and will take on the winner of the #4 Douglas College and #1 Vancouver Island University matchup. The game goes at 8:00pm at Quest University in Squamish, with the winner advancing to the CCAA Nationals at Holland College in Prince Edward Island. The game can be seen online at pacwestbc.tv.