Sunday, 5 September 2010

Minnesota 101, Victoria 67 (Vic trailed by 2 at the half)

Rodney Williams capped a game-changing 14-3 run that bridged halftime with a long 3 from the right wing and the Gophers later pulled away using a 12-5 run culminated by a three from 6'3" Devoe Joseph that gave the Gophers their largest lead of the night at 18 after 3 quarters, allowing Minnesota to sweep their three-game series vs. top Canada West competition this weekend.  Minnesota trailed for much of the first half against the scrappy Vikes before a packed house of about 2,000 in Victoria but took over with a dominating second half - Vic scored only 27 second half points including only 11 in the fourth quarter - and coasted to the win.

Vikes got off to a terrific start, substituting freely and using their entire bench to grab leads as large as 10 early in the second quarter.  Victoria was able to keep it to a half court game for the most part,  shooting 64% midway through the first 15 minutes including 4-6 from downtown, allowing their trademark solid quarter-court "d"  to make it reasonably challenging for the Gophers to run their offense. 

However the Gophers flashed their superior athleticism as Rodney Williams had back-to-back vicious dunks including an ally-oop off a set capping a 12-0 run that gave Minnesota their first lead at 30-28.  But the Vikes hung tough as 6'8" Mike Berg worked free inside where Victoria had success despite the larger Minnesota front line and 6'4" guard Ryan MacKinnon (11 first-half points) hit perimeter jumpers allowing Vic to go to halftime within two even after a Colton Iverson slam at the buzzer on a Vic defensive breakdown.  6`2" veteran guard Jeff Cullen was impressive for Victoria, quarterbacking the offense and making shots (13 points).

Victoria came apart in the second half but looked very solid early.  The Vikes look to be able to put at least 10 quality players on the floor and certainly have improved up front and on the wings with their three point shooting.  Expect a typical Vikes team under Coach Craig Beaucamp, one that will defend hard and rebound in the quarter court, limit opponents transition opportunities and usually take good shots on offense.  The Vikes come east to participate in the House-Laughton Classic at Carleton as part of their pre-season, a tournament which includes the host Ravens, perennial Top 10 side Windsor Lancers and McGill Redmen under new Coach Dave DeAveiro.

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