The University of Victoria men’s basketball team came away with an unbelievable last-second win over UBC Saturday (Feb. 11) in what local star Diego Maffia and fifth-year forward Dominick Oliveri said was the best game of their careers.
Maffia put on a show in front of a sold-out crowd at the CARSA Performance Gym and scored 42 points, which was the most in a Canada West game this season.
Oliveri also came up huge with the last-second putback to secure the 94-92 overtime victory over the Thunderbirds. This was the first game-winner of his career.
“Making a game-winner is something I’ve always dreamt about,” Oliveri said. “It’s a feeling I can’t really describe, but it’s way better than I could have ever dreamt.”
A Vikes win seemed incredibly unlikely as UBC had a 14-point lead with approximately three minutes left in regulation.
Local star Diego Maffia wills the @uvicvikes back after being down 14 with less than three minutes remaining to force overtime. Dominick Oliveri then hits the first game-winner of his career with less than one second on the clock to beat the @ubctbirds 94-92. @VictoriaNews #yyj pic.twitter.com/7oSiCTDd83
— Brendan Mayer (@BrendanMayer) February 12, 2023
“It was scary for sure, but we never give up,” Maffia said. “That’s our motto.”
The crowd came alive as UVic went on a 10-0 run, which sparked a Thunderbirds timeout with 1:35 remaining.
“The energy in the building was crazy,” Oliveri said. “The crowd brought us back, and we were feeding off their energy.”
Maffia hit a 3-pointer a step inside the half-court line to bring the Vikes within two points with eight seconds left. He then quickly stole the ball and was fouled and sent to the free throw line as UVic was in the bonus. Maffia sank both free throws to tie the game up 81-81 and send it to overtime.
“It was a roller-coaster game with ups and downs,” Maffia said. “We find a way. That’s what we preach. It was a great win. Everyone was bought in.”
Oliveri picked the right game to hit the biggest shot of his life, as he had nine family members travel from Washington state to watch him play.
“Doing this in front of my family couldn’t have been better,” he said.
Oliveri finished with five points, four assists and 11 rebounds, and Maffia added seven rebounds and four assists.
The Vikes ended the Canada West regular season with a 17-3 record and are ranked second behind the 18-2 Manitoba Bisons.
“We hope Diego can continue this in the playoffs,” Oliveri said. “He’s the best player on the floor. Every time he get’s the ball I know he can do something special. We ride his energy. He’s a phenomenal player.”
UVic will host the winner of the Regina Cougars and the UNBC Timberwolves in the quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 18.).
“It’s great that we get to host and keep this momentum going and go all the way,” Maffia said. “That’s our goal.”
The Cougars and the UNBC Timberwolves game is also at the CARSA Performance Gym and is scheduled at 5 p.m. Friday (Feb. 17).