The University of Fraser Valley Cascades Guard Joel Friesen connected on a buzzer beating off-balance three-point fadeway to beat the #3 Lethbridge Pronghorns 69-68 and claim the Best-of-three Canada West Quarter-Finals Series 2-1.
The dramatic last second win sends the Cascades to their first-ever Canada West Final Four after only six years in the tough Canadian university conference.
Friesen finished with 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting from behind the arc.
With the best-of-three series all knotted-up at 1-1, the two well-matched Top 25 teams fought for every possession and loose ball until the very last shot.
Like the previous two games of the series the two teams came out flexing their muscles and nothing was solved at the end of the first 10 minutes, the Cascades held a slim 18-17 advantage.
UFV proceed to hold Lethbridge scoreless for the first five minutes of the second-quarter and sparked by five quick points from off the bench by James York, built a 29-17 cushion thanks to an 11-0 run.
Not to be outdone Dominyc Coward responded and the Pronghorns closed the half on a 12-2 run and trailed 31-29 as both teams headed to the locker room for much needed break.
Five quick three-pointers by three different Cascades players helped build the games largest lead at 47-34 in a quarter which UFV outscored their opponents 23-17 and took a 54-46 lead that would’ve been larger if it wasn’t for Coward’s own buzzer beating three to end the third-quarter.
Feeling confident after his previous shot Coward opened the quarter with another three-point play and a Morgan Duce three-pointer quickly put the series up for grabs once again with UFV holding a slim 54-52 lead with 8:30 to play.
Duce buried two-more clutch three-pointers to shift the momentum back to the Lethbridge and a Derek Waldner dunk with 4:51 on the clock gave the visiting team their first lead of the game at 60-59.
With momentum on their side the Pronghorns stayed hot with two more jumpers from Coward and Logan Reiter to build a 64-59 lead.
Reiter had a change to extend the margin but failed to connect on two foul shots that left the door open for Friesen to bury his second three-pointer of the contest and bring the game to a two-point margin at 64-62 with 2:41.
Sam Freeman redeemed himself from his game-one missed fast-break lay-up with another key steal and connected on two foul shots to tie the game at 64-64.
Dominyc Coward answered back by dropping a sweet jumper to give the lead back to Lethbridge at 66-64 and Jasper Moet tied things at 66-66 with 55 seconds.
Both teams missed the opportunity to claim the lead and with 14 seconds remaining Cascades point guard James York coughed-up the ball over to Logan Reiter who raced in for a contested lay-up in what seemed to be the winner with just seven seconds remaining.
“I really respect the Lethbridge team, and thought they played a fantastic weekend of basketball. We wanted the ball in Joel’s hands at the end of the game, but there is no way I can even pretend we drew that up, it was an unbelievable clutch moment, and we excited to be moving on to the final four,” said UFV head coach Barnaby Craddock.
The Cascades now await the announcement of seeding committee to determine there next opponent.
The Saskatchewan Huskies, Alberta Golden Bears also qualified for the 2012 Canada West Final Conference Championship with the final team to be determined tomorrow between the the Calgary Dinos and Victoria Vikes in game a decisive game three of their series.