Douglas College’s best shooters stepped to the fore with first place on the line, leading the Royals past the Vancouver Island Mariners 105-99 in PacWest men’s basketball action on Sunday.
Coming on the heels of their first loss of the season – a 95-80 setback Saturday against the same Mariners – the Royals capitalized on 34-point performances from Courtney Anderson and Dylan Kinley to reclaim sole possession of first place.
It proved a perfect measure of mettle for the squad in a playoff-like environment, remarked Douglas’ head coach.
“I liked how we dealt with that adversity of losing our first game,” Joe Enevoldson said. “You never know how you’ll respond after that first loss, but I think we came back with the right intensity and a great mindset.”
Up 31-16 after 10 minutes, thanks to a series of three-point bombs by Josiah Mastandrea (with three in the first four minutes), Kinley (with two) and Anderson, the Royals created a solid cushion from which to work with.
Unlike the day before, Douglas limited its turnovers and did a good job containing a number of VIU’s top shooters. The visiting Mariners pushed hard down the stretch, outscoring Douglas 48-31 over a wild fourth quarter, but, while they put up the points, the visitors didn’t cause any panic from the home team.
“To be honest, it was a weird quarter,” remarked the coach. “It was essentially us trying just to get through it after leading by 23 (after three quarters). … It kind of felt like an NBA All-Star game, with all the back-and-forth runs.”
Douglas’ shooters connected on 48.6 per cent of their field goal attempts and 43.5 per cent from beyond the arc, giving them the final say on the scoreboard.
Kinley went five-for-eight from long distance. Mastandrea finished with 14 points, while Ben Rabel chipped in four points and 10 rebounds.
It improved the No. 3-nationally-ranked Royals to 8-1 on the year, one win ahead of the Mariners in the PacWest standings.
VIU’s physical game plan and aggressive play gave them the upper hand on the first day, resulting in Douglas turning the ball over an uncharacteristic 33 times. That stat, along with a strong shooting performance by the Mariners, was essentially what went wrong in Saturday’s opener.
Led by Cameron Gay, who counted 25 points, and Tori Odom, with 14 off the bench, the Island team put Douglas on its heels before the hosts regained composure.
Back-to-back treys from Anderson and Mastandrea propelled the Royals into the driver’s seat midway through a volatile third frame. And while they were in front 57-55 late in the quarter, Vancouver Island caught fire and outscored New West’s team 40-23 the rest of the way.
“I think (VIU) just turned us around that first game; they played physical basketball and it threw us off,” said Enevoldson.
Anderson counted a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds in the loss, while Cam Morris netted 15 points and four assists. Kinley chipped in with 13 points, nine boards and five assists.
The Royals got two newcomers into the game – six-foot-10 post Bollo Gnahore, who played a handful of games last year with Douglas, and guard Patrick Ryan. While each has impressive skills, Enevoldson said team chemistry means the additions will be eased into their roles.
“I think it’s going to be week-to-week. We’ve been in a groove and we don’t want to upset the good chemistry we’ve got,” said Enevoldson. “We just want to continue to get better. What I love about playing (VIU) was it put us in a playoff environment, with playoff intensity, and there were a lot of things to like.”
Douglas plays Capilano University twice this weekend, beginning Friday in North Van. They return to host Saturday, 8 p.m., at the New West campus.