Triston Matthews tied his career-high with 28 points and 13 rebounds in just 27 minutes of action but the Regina Cougars came away victors on Saturday night at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
Trailing by 11 points going into the fourth quarter, the Heat got within a possession late but couldn’t get any closer to the home team.
Hafith Moallin scored 21 points for the visitors in his first start following a November wrist injury, and Aldrich Berrios chipped in with 17 of his own.
The Heat drop to 5-11 with the setback. They’re one win back of Thompson Rivers and Victoria who are tied for the final two Canada West playoff berths, but at 6-8 both of those teams have two games in hand on UBC Okanagan.
The Heat’s final four conference games will all be at home, as they’ll host MacEwan Jan. 18 and 19 and Victoria Jan. 25 and 26.
Regina improves to 10-4 on the season. The Cougars will now prepare for two consecutive weekends away from the home, as they’ll play at Thompson Rivers next Friday and Saturday and at Winnipeg the following weekend, Jan. 25 and 26.
The Cougars still had a double-digit lead after a Greishe Clerjuste jumper put them back up by 10 with just under three minutes to go, but that turned out to be Regina’s last field goal of the game. UBC Okanagan then went on a 9-2 run featuring a big triple by Aldrich Berrios to get with three points, but that was as close as the Heat would get.
The visitors got a stop on the next possession, but Brayden Kuski forced a jump ball following the rebound to get the ball back and a Benjamin Hillis free throw got the lead back up to four with just seconds to go.
Kameron Vales hit four three-pointers for the second time in as many nights, ending up with a team-leading 18 points for the Cougars. Carter Millar collected 12 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double and also dished out a team-high five assists, while three players – Nick Barnard, Clerjuste, and Myles Hamilton – all finished with 10 points for the U of R.
The last four games will be exciting events at UBC Okanagan with the ‘Shoot for the Cure’ game Jan. 18, a 10-year celebration of the 2008/2009 men’s basketball provincial champion team Jan. 19, a Bell Let’s Talk special game Jan. 25, and then closing out with the annual senior player celebration Jan. 26.
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