It was a Friday night in which B.C.’s best Div. 1 men’s basketball talent took a backseat to no one in the NCAA’s Western Athletic Conference.
Point guard Ty Rowell keyed a game-changing 16-3 second-half run with nine of his 17 points, the Langley-Walnut Grove grad never leaving the floor on a night in which he helped lead the Cal Baptist Lancers (4-4, 1-2 WAC) to an 83-74 win over the visiting Tarleton State Texans (2-5, 0-3 WAC) at the CBU Events Centre in Riverside, Cal.
Further north in Seattle, centre Fardaws Aimaq scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, to go along with three blocks as the former Steveston-London grad helped carry the visiting Utah Valley Wolverines (5-5, 3-0 WAC) to a heart-stopping 93-92 victory against host Seattle University (7-6, 0-1 WAC) at Redhawk Center.
The B.C. natives were not only clutch from the field, they were gold-standard good from the stripe, going a combined 22-of-24 from the free throw line.
In the win over Tarleton State, Rowell went a perfect 9-of-9, while in the win over Seattle U, Aimaq started the game by hitting his first 10 straight before finishing 13-of-15.
A look at how B.C. talent carried the day in each of the two games:
TARLETON STATE 74 at CAL BAPTIST 83
RIVERSIDE, CA — In a game it led just 37-34 at halftime, the Lancers bounced back from last weekend’s conference-opening sweep at the hands of Utah Valley by putting together a Rowell-fueled run that held as the game’s signature.
The 6-foot-2 redshirt junior who closed his high school career as the veteran force on the Walnut Grove’s Gators 2017 B.C. boys Triple-A championship team, was in vintage form to start the second half.
During the big run, Rowell hit a pair of treys, then drove to the glass to complete a three-point play from the free throw line, the latter coming just 4:58 into the second half and giving the Lancers a 53-41 lead.
“Our guards were mentally tough, and part of that mental toughness is being able to move on to the next play,” CBU head coach Rick Croy said on the team’s post-game show at Fox Sports AM 1350.
“Ty, I didn’t think he had a great first half, but he just continued to lead his team,” added Croy. “And he and (guard) Tre (Armstrong) showed great leadership tonight.”
Armstrong, a 6-foot-5 sophomore guard from Tasmania, and Gorjok Gak, the team’s 6-foot-11 Australian centre, each scored 18 points with Gak adding 17 boards.
With Rowell setting the tone as the team’s point guard, CBU registered a stunning 20 assists on 24 made baskets.
The same two teams will meet Saturday at 6 p.m.
UTAH VALLEY 93 at SEATTLE U 92
SEATTLE — When Utah Valley’s Trey Woodbury sunk the game-winning three-pointer with 5.7 seconds left in overtime, it was the Wolverines’ only made bucket from the field over the final 4:19 of the five-minute overtime period.
And that’s because it was a night that Utah Valley moved to the top of WAC standings because of its ability to hit free throws.
The Wolverines, 29-of-41 on the night for a respectable 71 per cent, were nonetheless 8-of-10 during a critical three-minute span in overtime, and leading the way was Aimaq, who was 3-of-4 in OT, and 13-of-15 on the game.
Aimaq, who shot 4-of-12 from the stripe in a 70-62 non-conference loss to Weber State on Jan. 2 has been nothing short of sensational ever since WAC play began, going a combined 22-of-27 (82 per cent) from the charity stripe over the team’s three league games.
With 1:10 left in regulation and his team trailing 80-78, Aimaq registered a key block to gain possession for his team.
With 19 seconds remaining, teammate JJ Overton hit a jumper to force overtime.
Aimaq was supported inside by teammate Evan Cole, who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“Daws and Evan, they just battled inside tonight,” remarked Utah Valley head coach Mark Madsen on ESPN 360 to broadcaster Jim McCulloch during the Wolverines’ post-game show.
Overton with 21 and Woodbury with 20 helped give UVU four double-digit scorers on the night.
The same two teams close out the two-game set 6 p.m. Saturday in the Emerald City.
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