It took until the final weekend of the pre-Christmas schedule, but the UBC Okanagan Heat have their first two wins of the Canada West men’s basketball season.
Pete Guarasci’s squad swept a weekend set from the visiting UNBC Timberwolves to head into the semester break with a 2-8 record.
On Friday, second-year guard Mitch Goodwin connected for a career-high 27 points as the Heat downed the ‘Wolves 76-69 for their first win of the season.
“It’s definitely a monkey off of our backs,” said Goodwin who was named player of the game. “All season everything just felt kind of off, but (Friday) everything just clicked. So hopefully that can continue throughout the year.”
Fifth-year Heat marksman Landry Ndayitwayeko added 22 points behind three big three-pointers.
On Saturday, UBCO completed the sweep with an 81-73 win. Second-year big man Stuart Wallensteen was the difference-maker for the Heat, as he went for a team-high 19 points on 9-for-13 shooting and gobbling seven rebounds.
“He gave us an inside presence,” Guarasci said of f Wallensteen’s effort. “And I thought he was playing the team game, he was looking to attack when it was one-on-one coverage, and he was looking to make the kick when there was a double team or if he saw open people on the perimeter.”
Goodwin put up a double-double for the Heat with 12 points and 10 boards.
Following the break, the Heat will travel down to Santa Barbara, California for an exhibition tournament in the New Year before classes begin.
Canada West action resumes Jan. 10 and 11 in Regina and Brandon.
Like the men, the Heat women will head into the semester break with a 2-8 record after a split at home against UNBC.
On Friday, Heather Semeniuk’s team rode a strong second half to a 77-72 victory over the Timberwolves.
“I’m really happy for them because they needed this,” said Heather Semeniuk of her team earning their second conference win, and the first in front of their home fans. Emily Kanester led the charge for the Heat, as the three-year veteran powered her way to a team-high 18 points, including a dagger three-ball in final minute of play.
On Saturday, UNBC returned the favour beating the Heat 79-72.
UBCO had a slow start and was behind by as many 17 points on two occasions, but still made a game of it.
“Our backs were against the wall the whole game,” said Semeniuk. “I think (the Heat) responded very well.”
The third-year backcourt duo of Kanester and Sarah Allison did the heavy lifting for the Heat, combining for 46 points in the loss.
Following the semester break, the Heat will return to action Jan. 10 in Regina.