The Voyageurs Men's Basketball trip to San Jose, Costa Rica, has proved rewarding thus far.
The men began the trip with a 76-67 victory over the Montana Grizzlies on August 5th. Led by reigning U SPORTS Rookie of the Year, Kadre Gray, the Voyageurs jumped out to a 19-16 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Gray led all players with 24 points and nine assists while Joe Sykes chipped in 15 points and JD West helped out the cause with 12. The Grizzlies were led by Ahmaad Rorie and Mike Oguine, who had 18 and 16 points respectively, in the loss for last year's Big Sky Conference runner-ups.
For Coach Swords, there were a number of positives to take away from the game, saying, "We showed the energy, intensity and communication that we have been emphasizing. There was a lot of unselfish play at both ends of the floor that led to some good team play. We are looking forward to building off of this and making it a habit."
Coming off of their victory, the Voyageurs turned their attention to the local community, helping lead a basketball clinic for some young athletes that are from an under serviced area on the outskirts of San Jose.
Back on the hardwood, the Voyageurs took on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on August 8th. Despite leading through three quarters, the Voyageurs came up short in the track meet, ultimately falling 104-98. Gray once again led all scorers, tallying 28 points and nine assists. Despite big games from Nelson Yengue (21 pts, 8rbs) and Theo Thomas (12 pts on 5/6 shooting), the Voyageurs couldn't keep pace with a deep Hilltoppers squad that saw five players finish in double digits, led by Monte Bearden with 23.
For Coach Swords, one side of the ball in particular was giving him fits. "Both teams struggled on the defensive end of the floor," he said. "We lacked the same aggressiveness we had on defense from two nights ago. We need to improve our on-the-ball defense and be prepared to box out every shot. We did some good things on offense but needed to be perfect with our execution if we wanted to win with how we defended."
The squad will get a chance at redemption tomorrow night when they face the Hilltoppers again before wrapping up the trip against the Kent St. Golden Flashes on Saturday.