VIU Mariners player Ranika Guyton drives to the basket against the Camosun Chargers during PacWest action Feb. 24 at the Vancouver Island University gym. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

VIU Mariners player Ranika Guyton drives to the basket against the Camosun Chargers during PacWest action Feb. 24 at the Vancouver Island University gym. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

VIU basketball program goes unbeaten in regular season

Mariners favoured heading into provincials on both men’s and women’s sides

Vancouver Island University’s basketball program was perfect in PacWest play.

The VIU Mariners men’s and women’s basketball teams both finished the regular season this past Thursday, Feb. 24, with wins against the Camosun Chargers at the Vancouver Island University gymnasium. The Mariners women (18-0) defeated the Chargers 90-62 in the early game, and the M’s men (17-0) followed with an 89-76 victory.

“It wasn’t really on the top of our goals – we’re big-picture,” said Tony Bryce, coach of the VIU women’s team. “It’s nice for the girls to be able to say that they played an undefeated PacWest season but we’re more focused on the post-season and proving ourselves when it matters.”

The VIU women know what path the playoffs will take. Next up are the Pacific Western Athletic Association championships in Abbotsford from March 3-5, then come the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships at VIU from March 25-27.

Bryce said the team has been through a “bizarre” season with challenges like the pandemic and roster changes, and said although the M’s haven’t been playing their best basketball, he thinks they can get there.

“We’re going to try and sharpen up and then back off and hope that we’re as healthy as can be, locked in mentally and then trust all the time and work we’ve put in not just this year but in past years,” Bryce said.

READ ALSO: VIU basketball teams stay unbeaten with one game to go

Matt Kuzminski, coach of the Mariners men, said an undefeated season wasn’t necessarily something his team targeted, but rather a product of going into every game to win.

“It is an acknowledgement of the group of guys you have, the coaching staff and the efforts we put in to getting them ready to go and how much the team’s improved in general,” he said.

B.C. has two berths to nationals, so the Mariners men are just one playoff win away from achieving that goal.

“It’s about that [semifinal] game … and then we’ll reassess,” Kuzminski said.

GAME ON … The PacWest championships are March 3-5, hosted by Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford. Both VIU teams are seeded No. 1 and have earned berths into the semifinals Friday, March 4.

READ ALSO: Unbeaten VIU basketball teams soar to more wins

editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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