DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Wesmen were left lamenting a slow start while the Victoria Vikes were thankful a slow-footed finish didn't do them in Friday night at the Duckworth Centre.
Faith Hezekiah had a game-high 32 points but watched a potential game-winning, buzzer-beating lay-up roll off the rim as time expired as the Wesmen women's basketball team dropped its Canada West season-opener, 77-76 to the visiting Vikes.
Victoria (1-0) got 25 points off the bench from Ashlyn Day and took a 44-31 lead into halftime, buoyed by a quick 8-2 run in the middle of the second quarter that allowed the Vikes to stretch their lead to double digits.
Hezekiah added 10 rebounds, but the Wesmen lost that battle 42-32 as a team.
"The second half we finally competed and started playing hard," Wesmen head coach Tanya McKay said. "It's disappointing because we made our bed in the first period, we made our bed when the ball was tipped. … I'm proud of the kids that they showed in the second half that they can compete, but if we don't compete for 40 minutes, we don't win. We had a shot to win it, but if we would've played well the first 20 minutes we probably wouldn't have been in that situation."
Farrah Castillo, the U of W's new starting point guard, had 19 points — 13 after halftime — six assists and five rebounds in her Canada West debut. Jessica Dyck added 15.
The Wesmen shot 20 of 22 from the free-throw line, but just 2 of 18 from three. Victoria went 16-for-20 and 7-for-27.
Winnipeg never led, but the Wesmen were right on the doorstep. After Hezekiah made a lay-up with seven seconds left to cut the lead to one, second-year guard Jessica Dyck forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play and the ball eventually found its way to Hezekiah under the hoop. She got the shot up and on the rim but it slowly rolled off and the Vikes escaped.
"(Winnipeg) played with more intensity and togetherness in the second half and we did more in the first half. It just sort of could've gone either way at the end of it," Victoria head coach Dani Sinclair said. "I think we started to settle for some shots on the outside and (Winnipeg) did a nice job of taking away the interior. I thought in the first half we went inside-out a little bit better. I think we can't rely on heaven to hit three all night, for sure."
Victoria put four players in double figures with Calli McMillan, Amira Giannattasio and Aleah Ashlee each scoring 11 points.
The two teams meet again Saturday in a 7 p.m. CT tip.