Saskatchewan (10-4, 6-3) 95, UBC (14-1, 8-1) 78… The prevailing view of Huskies dramatic fall from perennial Nationals contenders to last season’s non-playoff season was the lack of a true, dominant U.S. import guard. Indeed, it has been at least 3 seasons (Stephon Lamar in 2013-14) that Huskies have been led by a big-time, athletic play maker/scorer from the back court.
However, we have argued before that the main reason for Sask’s disappointing 2015-16 was the early season loss to injury of 6’6″ forward Matt Forbes, causing him to miss all of last season’s Canada West play. While it has taken some time for Forbes to return to full strength, consider the talented, hard nosed power four man completely back if last night’s dominant effort in a big spot is any indication. Forbes carried the Huskies inside at both ends, making life difficult for UBC’s 6’9″ Conor Morgan, while taking over offensively in the third quarter with emphatic takes to the rim and on the glass in a dominant Huskies victory at home in Saskatoon.
Certainly Saskatchewan’s 12 for 23 effort from downtown including a combined 9 for 13 from the back court combo of 6’1″ Alex Unruh (16 points/4-6 3’s) and athletic 6’3″ Jaylen Morgan (game-high 23 points; 5/7 3’s) was instrumental. Forbes effort made up for a foul-plagued 7-point, 9-rebound night from Sask’s star forward 6’7″ Shane Osayande.
The game featured the Huskies debut of 6’2″ Lawrence Moore (Chicago, IL via Bakersfield CC) and while the slender point guard did show flashes of adept passing skills, Moore was hardly, at least last night, a dominant scorer in the Lamar, Showron Glover mould but very important nonetheless. Moore (2-10 shooting, 6 assists/ 13 points including 8-8 from the line) showed an ability to run a team effectively and appeared to go out of his way to spread the looks and share the ball. Still, the story last night was the resurgence to top form of Forbes, who matched Morgan’s strength inside and helped put this game out of reach by late in the third quarter plus Huskies adept perimeter shooting.
UBC struggled from the perimeter – they made just 3 of their first 22 threes and fell behind by 20+ – and looked out of synch after a solid first-half of the season. Morgan finished with a team-high 22 points, with 6 coming in the final moments on a pair of meaningless 3’s, and more importantly grabbed only 5 rebounds.
The teams meet again tonight in Saskatoon.