UBC Okanagan didn’t manage a win on opening weekend of the Canada West men’s basketball season.
But for at least one night, the Heat played step for step with one of the longtime powers in the CIS.
After being blown out on Friday night by the host Victoria Vikes, UBCO responded with a much better effort on Saturday en route to a 71-66 loss.
With injuries to Yassine Ghomari and Mitch Goodwin, the Heat battled through some early season adversity and played well.
“Although leaving Victoria with a split would have been nice, we are encouraged by the focus and effort of (Saturday’s) game,” said Heat coach Pete Guarasci. “I think we’ve learned how hard we need to play to be effective in this league.”
Kelowna product Azi Fahandeg-Sadi knocked down 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting for the Heat, Greet Gill added 17 points, and Landry Ndayitwayeko chipped in 13 of his own as the Heat shot 45 per cent from the field.
Despite the offensive outpouring the Heat were out-rebounded 40-27, which led to 16 second chance points for the Vikes.
On Friday night, UBCO’s scored just 19 points in the second half in a 73-48 loss to UVic.
Fahandeg-Sadi scored a third of the Heat’s points with 16, while adding five rebounds.
The Heat will play their home openers this weekend against the Mount Royal Cougars.
The games will tip off at 8 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday.
The UBC Okanagan squad has opened the new Canada West season at 0-2 after a pair of losses in Victortia.
On Friday, the Vikes scored 28 first-quarter points on the way to a 87-69 win.
Roz Huber was a force in a losing cause for the Heat with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Unfortuanely for the Heat the fifth-year post player went down with a high ankle sprain and was forced to sit out Saturday’s game which the Vikes won 82-53.
Sarah Allison and Madison Kaneda each scored 12 points for the Heat, while Emily Kanester added eight.
However, without Huber, the Vikes were able to dominate the paint. Victoria scored 44 points in the paint to the Heat’s 22, which proved to be the difference in the game.
“We just could not hit a shot,” said Heat guard Melissa Irish. “But we battled through adversity. The second half of tonight’s game is something we can draw on.”
The Heat shot 17 per cent better from the field in the second half than in the first.
The Heat women return to action this Friday at 6 p.m. at UBCO against Mount Royal. The teams will meet again Saturday at 5 p.m.