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HUSKIES CROWNED CIS CHAMPIONS FOR FIRST TIME2010-03-21

OTTAWA (CIS) - The fifth-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies captured the first W.P. McGee trophy in team history on Sunday night thanks to a 91-81 win over the No. 3 British Columbia Thunderbirds in the final of the CIS men's basketball championship, at Scotiabank Place.

The triumph comes just two weeks after the Huskies claimed their first-ever Canada West title. Saskatchewan ended the season on a 13-game winning streak and won 17 of its final 18 contests, including a 104-87 overtime victory over UBC in the conference semifinals. Saskatchewan became the first Canada West team to capture the McGee trophy since Alberta beat Western 76-71 in 2002. Both the Huskies' 91 points and the 172 total points were the most in a CIS final since Victoria downed Waterloo 93-79 in 1985. It is the first CIS Championship title for Huskie Athletics since 2004-05 when the track & field team won double banners. GREG

The Thunderbirds, who received the wildcard entry for the national tournament after settling for Canada West bronze, were losing in the CIS title match for the second straight year. They were dropped 87-77 by Carleton 12 months ago.

Playing in his final university game, six-foot-eight forward Troy Gottselig of Findlater, Sask., scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds and received the Jack Donohue trophy as championship MVP. Guard Showron Glover, who led the nation with 28.1 points per contest this season, was named Saskatchewan player of the game after he tallied 28 points and dished out 10 assists, both tournament highs.  The native of Fresno, California, joined Gottselig on the championship all-star team, along with teammate Michael Linklater of Saskatoon, who was also wearing the Huskies uniform for the last time and finished his career with a 20-point effort.

Michael Lieffers of Saskatoon and Duncan Jones of Calgary also came up big for the Huskies in the final. Lieffers had a game-high 13 boards, while Jones scored 10 points, including a trio of three-point shots.

"It's so hard to win this tournament. Not only do you have to be a good team, but you have to be mentally tough and injury free. And it all lined up for us this year," said Greg Jockims, in his 12th season at the helm of the Huskies.

"I was concerned about our energy, with three back-to-back games against really good teams. But we maintained a level of intensity and played well. Our fitness has been a strong point of our game," added Jockims, whose troops edged No. 4 Windsor 71-68 in the opening round on Friday before upsetting top-seeded and defending champion Carleton 86-82 in Saturday's semis.

Guard Kamar Burke was named UBC game MVP following a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double. The Mississauga, Ont., was the lone T-Birds selected to the all-tournament squad. Four of his teammates also scored in double figures including CIS player of the year Josh Whyte of Calgary, with 16 points, Blain LaBranche of Edmonton, with 12, and Graham Bath of Langley, B.C., and Melvyn Mayott of Burnaby, B.C., who both at 11. LaBranche was one of two fifth-year seniors on the UBC roster, along with guard Kyle Watson of Richmond, B.C.  

"It doesn't matter if you score 20 points or how well you play if you lose," Burke said. "We didn't get it done. We're really upset right now."

Down 12-4 early on, Saskatchewan went on a 14-0 run, capped off by a Jones three-pointer, and never trailed again in the match.

Lieffers closed out the opening quarter with a thunderous dunk to make it 20-16 Huskies after 10 minutes. FANS

The Huskies scored the first five points of the second period and Glover opened an 11-point gap, at 30-19, with a spectacular drive to the basket. Glover hit from beyond the arc to make it 40-27 with 2:32 left before the break, and Linklater followed moments later with a three of his own for a 14-point advantage, at 43-29.

Saskatchewan took a 45-31 lead into the locker room.

Back from the intermission, Lieffers made it a 17-point affair, at 52-35, with a monstrous dunk.

UBC crawled back to within 11 points, at 59-48, and was within 10 with under a minute left in the third period following a Bath layup. Bath was sent to the charity stripe moments later and hit both free throws to cut the margin to 65-57 with 30 seconds on the clock.

After three, Saskatchewan was up 67-57. UBC once again came back to within eight points early in the final quarter, and trailed 71-65 with 6:46 remaining following a pair of Alex Murphy free throws. Mayott hit from long range to make it 73-68, but Glover and Trevor Nerdahl responded with back-to-back treys to restore an 11-point Saskatchewan cushion with just over five minutes left. With three minutes to go, Murphy made two more free throws to make it 79-73. A Burke three made it a five-point game at 81-76, but Linklater immediately responded with a bomb to put the Huskies ahead 84-76, with 1:50 on the clock. The T-Birds moved back to within five, at 84-79, when LaBranche completed a three-point play with a free throw, but Gottselig sealed the victory with a steal followed by a spectacular dunk with exactly one minute on the board.

Saskatchewan shot 47.6% from the field and 37% from three-point range, compared to 40.6% and 32% success rates for UBC, which finished with a 44-31 advantage in rebounding.

GAME NOTES: Carleton forward Kevin McCleery rounded out the championship all-star team... Calgary forward Ross Bekkering received the R.W. Pugh Fair Play award... Both McCleery and Bekkering closed out their CIS careers at the tournament... UBC opened the championship Friday with a 79-58 defeat of No. 6 Lakehead and beat No. 7 Calgary 77-63 in the semifinals... UBC defeated Saskatchewan 90-83 in Vancouver on Nov. 13 in the only regular season meeting between the two teams... UBC and Saskatchewan had never met at the CIS championship before Sunday... UBC was playing in its seventh CIS final following appearances in 2009, 1987, 1972, 1970, 1967 and 1964... The T-Birds were crowned in 1972 and 1970... Saskatchewan was making its fifth appearance at the event and had never made it past the semifinals... Brandon beat Alberta 79-72 in 1996 in the last all-Canada West national final...

Game Stats

Championship website


STAT LEADERS
Saskatchewan

Points: Showron Glover (28), Troy Gottselig (22), Michael Linklater (20), Duncan Jones (10)
Rebounds: Michael Lieffers (13), Troy Gottselig (8)
Assists: Showron Glover (10)
Milk player of the game: Showron Glover

UBC
Points: Josh Whyte (16), Kamar Burke (16), Blain LaBranche (12), Graham Bath (11), Melvyn Mayott (11)
Rebounds: Kamar Burke (12), Josh Whyte (6)
Assists: Josh Whyte (6)
Milk player of the game: Kamar Burke

CHAMPIONSHIP HONOURS

Tournament MVP (Jack Donohue Trophy): Troy Gottselig, Saskatchewan
R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award: Ross Bekkering, Calgary

Tournament All-Stars:
Troy Gottselig, Saskatchewan
Showron Glover, Saskatchewan
Michael Linklater, Saskatchewan

Kamar Burke, UBC
Kevin McCleery, Carleton

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS
Friday, March 19
Quarter-final #1: Calgary 82, Cape Breton 74
Quarter-final #2: UBC 79, Lakehead 58
Quarter-final #3: Saskatchewan 71, Windsor 68

Quarter-final #4: Carleton 83, UQAM 72

Saturday, March 20
Consolation #1: Cape Breton 87, Lakehead 65
Consolation #2: Windsor 79, UQAM 74
Semifinal #1: UBC 77, Calgary 63
Semifinal #2: Saskatchewan 86, Carleton 82

Sunday, March 21
Consolation final (5th place): Cape Breton 95, Windsor 92 (OT)
Championship final: Saskatchewan 91, UBC 81


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