Cameron Doherty, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The UVic Vikes women's basketball team was right there for the majority of the game, but in the end couldn't keep pace with an explosive Winnipeg Wesmen offence in an 88-76 loss on February 10 inside the CARSA Performance Gym.
"There were a few possessions there that turn the tide," said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. "We were going toe-to-toe with them, seemingly got a stop and then gave up an offensive rebound or we turned the ball over a couple times in a row, it was a four or six point game and then all of a sudden it was twelve."
"Against a team that is that good, you can't do that."
The Wesmen shot 53 per cent from the field in the game, putting up 53 points in the first half alone, on a night where they had an answer for anything Victoria could throw their way.
"We played with a lot of courage and played hard," said Wesmen head coach Tanya McKay. "I would say the same thing about UVic, they made some timely shots as well. That was a really exciting game."
Fifth-year guard Jenna Krug scored a season-high 20 points in the loss. Amira Giannattasio added 17 points of her own while Jenna Bugiardini scored 15 points and added eight rebounds, despite missing most of the third quarter due to foul trouble.
"It was too bad, she doesn't get into foul trouble too often and unfortunately she did it just trying to make an aggressive play," said Sinclair. "She's been great on the boards for us and was just trying to grab an offensive rebound."
It was a balanced scoring attack for the Wesmen, as the top team in the conference got contributions from up and down their line up. Megan Noonan led the way with 26 points, going nine-for-19 from the field. Faith Hezekiah came off the bench to score 20 points, while Antoinette Miller, the leading scorer in the conference, added 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The first quarter was incredibly fast paced as both teams looking unstoppable on offence. They went blow-for-blow with neither squad leading by over three points in the opening frame. Lena Wenke went two-for-three from beyond the arc as the Wesmen shot a ridiculously high 65 per cent from the field in the quarter. Krug and Bugiardini answered for the Vikes with ten and eight points apiece.
The trend of both teams answering every opposition score with one of their own continued through the first half of the second frame. The Wesmen went on a 13-6 run to end the half however, and went into the break up 53-43 and in possession of the first double-digit lead of the game.
Just two minutes into the third quarter the comeback got a lot more difficult for the Vikes, when leading scorer Bugiardini picked up her third foul that sent her to the bench.
"We had some good contributions from other people off the bench, Paige Thomson came in, in that role and Calli McMillan played a couple important minutes," said Sinclair. "We will need a little bit more of that tomorrow, we've got some tired legs but they will too, it was a track meet both ways. "
The Wesmen were able to maintain their lead with Bugiardini off the floor, thanks to 11 points in the quarter from Noonan, and went into the fourth quarter up 74-64.
The Vikes managed to cut the lead down to seven halfway through the fourth but that was as close as they could get.
The Wesmen had an answer every time the Vikes got a little too close for comfort, mostly in the form of Miller, who was able to slice through the Vikes defence stop on a dime and then fire for two on multiple occasions.
These same two teams will play tomorrow night inside the CARSA Performance with a scheduled start time of 5 p.m. The game will be the last one of the regular season for both teams and will be the final regular season games in Victoria for fifth-year Vikes Nicole Karstein, Jenna Bugiardini and Jenna Krug
The game can be watched live on canadawest.tv.
When asked how her team could limit the potent offence of the Wesmen in the rematch, Sinclair said that the answer was clear.
"Against a team that has so many weapons you have to limit turnovers, we have to take better care of the ball and we can't give them second chances. You give them one shot only and then you have to clean up the boards."
UVIC: 27-16-21-12: 76
WPG: 28-25-21-14: 88
UVIC: Jenna Krug (20), Amira Giannattasio (17), Jenna Bugiardini (15)
WPG: Megan Noonan (26), Faith Hezekiah (20), Antoinette Miller (19)