Arron Lai, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE – A dominant first quarter carried the Winnipeg Wesmen to their second win of the season, stunning host Lethbridge Pronghorns with an 82-56 win in the first of two Canada West women's basketball games between the two teams in Lethbridge this weekend.
After dropping last weekends set against the Alberta Pandas (68-62, 68-59), the Lethbridge Pronghorns women's basketball team looked to bounce back against a struggling 1-7 Winnipeg Wesman team but it wasn't meant to be.
Winnipeg came to play tonight in the YQL showcasing a potent attack, and a stifling defense that was previously unseen this season. Off the heels of a dominant performance from fourth-year forward Faith Hezekiah (30 points), the Winnipeg offense oftentimes seemed unstoppable. An impressive three point shooting night by the team (10 of 19) opened the floor up for an efficient game at mid-range, and in the post, as the Wesman finished the night with a 46% shooting percentage.
The trio of Farrah Castillo, Robyn Boulanger and Deborah Nkiasi each contributed 11 points on the night for the Wesmen.
After opening the season with four straight victories against MacEwan and UBCO, the Pronghorns struggled to match the form that saw them go undefeated after two weeks of conference action. The 'Horns failed to find their shooting stroke all night, finishing the game with a 23% shooting percentage.
Although she could not find her shot, Kacie Bosch was her usual self, providing energy for the team with hustle plays on both sides of the ball. She finished the game 8-9 on free throws, and led her team with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Danielle Fritzke chipped in with 11 points in the loss.
With the loss, the Horns drop to 4-3 while the Wesman improve to 2-7.
"Winnipeg controlled the game with their intensity and physicality from the start and we failed to match it and respond," said interim head coach Dave Waknuk. "Winnipeg did an excellent job of using their strengths and we didn't adapt."
"We need to refocus on our defensive principles tomorrow and come back with a better effort."
The Pronghorns opened the game with a hot start, thanks to a hustle play by Bosch. They would score the first two baskets of the game, before the Wesman began finding their feet. Winnipeg would go on a 17 point run, finding success from all areas of the court - in the paint, mid-range, and from three. The Pronghorns would seemingly be unable to stop Winnipeg from scoring, as the visitors would continue to score at will, taking a 27-9 lead into the quarter break. The Wesman shot an impressive 61% from the field (11 of 18, 3 of 4 from three point range) while holding the 'Horns to 25% shooting (4 of 16).
As they did in the first quarter, the Pronghorns scored the first four points of the quarter before the Wesman would build momentum. Winnipeg would limit the 'Horns offensively with suffocating pressure on defense, as they were unable to find success scoring the ball. The tide would begin to turn in Lethbridge's favor thanks to Asnate Fomina draining a tough three with Winnipeg up 42-20. This big triple would spark the 'Horns offense, as they would score three triples in a row to bring the deficit to 42-29. A late Wesman basket would bring the score to 44-29 after two quarters.
Winnipeg would come out firing to open the third quarter, showcasing the same sharp shooting they had in the first quarter. With their shooters seemingly unable to miss, the Wesman would build a 29 point lead (62-33) five minutes into the third quarter. Second-year guard Robyn Boulanger (2 of 3 from three point range) and fourth-year forward Faith Hezekiah (11 points in the frame) would lead the Wesman in the quarter.
The fourth quarter saw more of the same, with the Pronghorns unable to sustain any momentum on offense. The Wesman offense would also slow down (12 points in the frame), but the damage had already been done thanks to a 70 point outburst in three quarters of play.
The Pronghorns and Wesman will run it back tomorrow night to wrap up the weekend set. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. at the 1st Choice Savings Center in Lethbridge.
Photo by: MPP Photography