WBB: Sharpshooting Wolfpack earn first win of season vs T-Birds

WBB: Sharpshooting Wolfpack earn first win of season vs T-Birds

Stu Walters / UBC Thunderbirds

VANCOUVER – The Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack leaned on spread out scoring and highly efficient long-range shooting on the road to earn their first victory of the season 73-61 over the UBC Thunderbirds at War Memorial Gym on Friday night.

The Wolfpack were feeling it from outside from beginning to end in this one, shooting an impressive 50 percent from three-point land and finishing 12 of 24 on the night to pull away from the 'Birds.

TRU shared the ball well with five players reaching double digits in scoring, leading the way was fifth-year guard Michelle Bos with 21 points and eight rebounds. Meanwhile fourth-year guard Leilani Carney scored all of her 16 points in the second half and was especially dangerous from distance in hitting three of her four, three-point attempts. Forward Emily Vilac and guard Jordon Haggerty each scored 11 points with Vilac making good on three of her six attempts from beyond the arc and Kanesha Reeves rounded out the double digit scoring with 10 points while draining three of five attempts from outside.

"We've struggled in games this season to shoot the ball well and tonight on the road in a tough place to play against a very good team, we shot the ball well and I'm just so proud of my group," said TRU head coach Scott Reeves. "Again, we've struggled shooting the three and we have kids that I know can shoot the three, I see it in practice, we see glimpses of it and for whatever reason it wasn't going in at the start of the year but tonight it all went in and it's a lot of hard work paying off in getting in the gym."

For the T-Birds it was fourth-year guard Maddison Penn leading the way with a team high 21 points and nine rebounds while Keylyn Filewich added 12 points and eight rebounds. Madison Legault chipped in with 10 points and a game high 12 rebounds.

It was a back and forth early portion of the opening frame with the teams trading baskets before the visitors eventually built a 22-19 lead to close out the quarter on the strength of shooting 56 percent from the floor including a sizzling 100 percent from beyond the arc. Leading the way for TRU was a very efficient Bos picking up 12 points in hitting five of her seven attempts from the field including both of her three-point attempts. Meanwhile Haggerty hit both of her shots from the field and Vilac made good on her lone three-point try. Setting the pace for the 'Birds was Filewich with six points on three of four shooting in the paint while late quarter sub Tanis Metcalfe contributed a quick four points.

A roller coaster second quarter began with the Wolfpack continuing their sharpshooting in extending their lead to 10 points at 33-22 on the strength of Reeves hitting two early three-pointers. Seeing the 10-point deficit on home court seemed to spark the T-Birds who would respond by scoring the next six straight points starting with a Jessica Hanson jump shot and ending with a Legault put back from down low to pull it within 33-29 and causing TRU to call their first timeout. After the break, the 'Birds kept up their offensive onslaught with baskets from Penn on a fade away jumper and two straight from Legault in the paint to make it 12 consecutive points scored by the hosts who briefly held a 35-34 advantage. The Wolfpack would bite back however with seconds remaining it was Reeves dialing up another dagger from outside making good on her third of four three-point attempts in the quarter and a 37-25 halftime lead. Reeves led the visitors with nine points in the quarter while Penn and Legault answered with a matching team high six points each. Through two quarters the Wolfpack had hit six of 10 attempts from the three-point line while UBC was still trying to find their outside shooting touch in failing to connect on their six attempts from distance.

The third frame would see the perimeter shooting prowess continue from TRU and this time it was fourth-year guard Leilani Carney catching fire for a team high nine points thanks to hitting three of her four three-point attempts. Vilac would add her second three-pointer of the night bringing the Wolfpack's total to 10 on the night and an impressive 59 percent shooting from long range after three quarters. Penn once again led the way for the T-Birds while Hanson and and Hailey Counsell chipped in with the hosts first two three-pointers on the evening to trail by 10 points, 57-47 after three periods.

TRU would increase their lead in the final quarter by outscoring the T-Birds 16-14, for the visitors it was Carney leading the way with seven points while Penn was consistent with another six points in dropping the 73-61 decision. With the loss UBC drops to 3-4 on the young season while the Wolfpack take comfort in earning their first win of the campaign to now sit at 1-4. The teams will meet once again on Saturday night with a 5:00 p.m. tipoff at War Memorial Gym.

PHOTO: Rich Lam