The #3 the upstart Lethbridge Pronghorns fought back from a game-high, first-half, 15-point deficit and physically wore down the #2 Fraser Valley Cascades down the stretch to win a hard-fought 87-78 road game in Abbotsford, BC and draw first blood in the best-of-three Canada West Men’s Basketball quarter-finals series.
Dominyc Coward (Airdrie, AB) calmly buried a contested three-pointer off a nice feed from stellar point guard Darly Cooper (San Francisco, CA) to give the Pronghorns a 78-73 lead with 34 seconds remaining.
Kyle Grewal (Surrey, BC) ignited a late 5-0 of run to bring the Cascades within two points at 75-73 and then veteran guard Samuel Freeman picked-pocketed Cooper at the top of the key but blew a wide-open fast-break lay-up that would have tied the game.
The Cascades dominated the first quarter and limited Lethbridge to just 2-of-14 shooting and grabbed 17 rebounds to jump ahead 18-9 after the first 10 minutes.
The physical play continued in the second quarter with Kyle Grewal out-muscling his way to three-straight offensive boards to put his squad up 30-15 with 6:42 remaining and forcing a Pronghorns timeout.
Out of the timeout third-year 5’11” Morgan Duce (Raymond, AB) connected on the first-of-two three-pointers to ignited a 15-6 Lethbridge run to only trail 30-36 at the half-time.
The action picked-up in the third-quarter as both teams combined for total nine three-pointers including a ridiculous exchanged in the dying seconds to force a dead-even 60-60 score after three quarters of play.
Cooper led all scores with 17 of his 25 points in the second-half. Coward was limited to 14 points and six rebounds and Morgan Duce’s three-point shooting was instrumental in the Pronghorns comeback as he finished with 18 points on 3-of-9 from downtown.
Grewal finished with a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds and Sheldon Bjorgaard came of the bench to scored 15 points for UFV.
Joel Friesen struggled to find any rhythm and shot only 2-of-11 from the floor, including 1-of-6 from threes and was equally poor from the free-throw line with 6-of-14 effort.
The Cascades gave the away at the free-throw line by shooting 13-of-26 (50%) from the line compared to the 27-of-37 (73%) from Lethbridge.
The battle in the trenches went to Cascasdes with 52 rebounds, 28 of those coming on the offensive glass. Lethbridge pulled down 41 with 19 in the UFV end.
Both teams finished with 13 turnovers with the Pronghorns only turning it over seven times after the first quarter.
The two teams meet again tomorrow in game-two of the series. The winner will advance to the 2012 Canada West Final Four.