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Blues rally late to down Falcons

CapU second-year guard Michael Kelly. Photo Tae Hoon Kim / Capilano University
CapU second-year guard Michael Kelly. Photo Tae Hoon Kim / Capilano University

CJ Pentland, CapU Sports Information Director 

Down by 17 points at the half and by 13 with just under six minutes to play, the Capilano University Blues men’s basketball team stepped up down the stretch to deliver a come-from-behind 87-86 win over the Langara College Falcons on Friday night in North Vancouver.

After they called a timeout down 83-70 with 5:52 to play, the Blues allowed just three points over the rest of the way to keep the game within reach. They first chipped into the deficit with free throws, and a Michael Kelly three-pointer with 1:31 to play eventually made it a one-possession game for the first time since the early first quarter. After forcing a turnover, CJ Campbell found Nathan Bromige under the hoop for a lay-in that made it 86-85.

CapU then forced Langara into a shot clock violation on their next possession, giving the Blues the ball with 16 seconds to play. Grady Huskisson drove hard to the hoop off a quick inbounds, converting the lay-in to but the Blues in front with 10 seconds to play. The Falcons couldn’t respond on their final possession, as Antonio Jhuty’s three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.

“In the second half we did the little things,” said head coach Casssidy Kannemeyer. “I thought Grady brought energy defensively and on the glass, and I thought Denver [Sparks-Guest] was excellent offensively and defensively in the second half. Michael Kelly did a heck of a job on [PACWEST leading scorer] Antonio, and offensively I thought Moeiz [Athaya] was the only one who got going in the second half, otherwise we did a good job of shutting down the rest of the guys. So I think it was a collective effort that was better in the second half. A gut check win.”

The Blues started the game slowly, trailing by as much as 20 points in the first half. Unable to find a rhythm against Langara’s zone defence, they shot just 1-of-12 from beyond the arc and made only two trips to the free throw line over the opening 20 minutes.

“I thought that Langara played a heck of a first half, and I thought they came ready to play and they wanted it,” said Kannemeyer. “They outrebounded us by 15, they got loose balls, and I thought we were kinda going through the motions.”

A quick 9-0 run over the first 1:30 of the third quarter got CapU back into the game, and they trimmed their deficit to five midway through the frame. But Langara always had an answer to maintain a multi-possession lead, and it appeared that would remain the case – until CapU pulled through down the stretch.

Sparks-Guest had a team-high 29 points in the contest on 13-of-25 shooting, and was one of five Blues players to score in double-figures. Niko Mottus had 11 points to go along with seven rebounds, and Huskisson had a strong all-around performance with 11 points, five boards, three assists, and three steals. Kelly had three of the team’s five three-pointers on the night, going 3-of-5 as part of 11 points.

The win improves CapU to 7-4 on the season and keeps them in third place in the PACWEST. The two teams will square off for the third and final time this season on Saturday evening at 7:00pm at the Centre for Sport and Wellness in North Vancouver.