Actions spoke even louder than words for Jasper Moedt and the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team on Saturday evening.
Earlier in the week, in an interview with The Abbotsford News, Moedt spoke in frank terms about the confidence he had in his Cascades heading into a high-profile clash with the Trinity Western Spartans at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
Moedt’s message, in a nutshell: We’re bigger, we’re deeper, we’re more talented. We’ll win.
That they did – the Cascades put together a tough-minded, focused performance and cruised past the Spartans 88-72.
In the aftermath, Moedt admitted he caught flak from UFV bench boss Barnaby Craddock for his comments – Craddock preferring that his players not provide so-called bulletin board material to further stoke their opponents’ competitive fire.
The way Moedt saw it, he was simply expressing his deep belief in his team.
“I realized when I read it in the paper that maybe it came off as a little confident,” explained the 6’7″ centre, who posted 10 points, seven rebounds and one block in the victory. “But it’s just that I believe in us. That’s very important for someone to speak out about.
“It wasn’t so much that I was talking down on them (the Spartans), but I have a lot of faith in our team and what we’re doing at UFV.”
The foundation for Saturday’s win was defence. The Spartans came in riding a six-game winning streak, having eclipsed the 100-point plateau four times during that span. But the Cascades locked it down in the first quarter, limiting TWU to just seven points while registering 19 themselves.
“That set the tempo for us,” Craddock noted. “I thought it was a pretty solid defensive effort from our group.”
The Cascades expanded lead as high as 17 points early in the second quarter, and had a lot of success on the offensive end pounding the ball inside with Moedt and Kyle Grewal.
The Spartans mustered a rally in the third quarter to trim the deficit to seven points (59-52), but UFV stayed calm and pushed the lead back up to 19 midway through the fourth quarter en route to the victory.
In the process, the Cascades (10-5) put some distance between themselves and TWU (8-7) in the race for third place in Canada West’s Pacific Division.
The Spartans, who were missing top scorer Kyle Coston due to a sprained ankle, got 21 points from Calvin Westbrook in the loss. Point guard Tristan Smith, an ex-Cascade, was the only other TWU player in double figures with 12 points. Sean Peter, the Spartans’ second-leading scorer, was held to seven points, less than half his season average.
Cascades guard Joel Friesen had a big night. In addition to guarding Peter for much of the evening, he racked up a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds, shooting 5-for-10 from the field and a perfect 13-for-13 from the foul line. Grewal registered 17 very efficient points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, while Sam Freeman (13 points) and Sheldon Bjorgaard (11) also chipped in.
Craddock noted that at this time last year, Grewal and Moedt were on the sidelines nursing torn knee ligaments. Their presence was the difference on this night, as the Cascades’ ability to get the ball inside kept the Spartans in foul trouble, leading to UFV shooting nearly three times as many free throws (37-13) as did the Spartans. The Cascades also had a 39-29 edge in the rebounding department.
“It’s a tough match-up for other teams, and we’re going to keep trying to play inside-out,” Craddock said.