Rich Abney, UNBC Athletics
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. -
A dominant third quarter proved to be the difference as the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves earned a 78-55 victory over the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack, Friday, January 4th at the Charles Jago Northern Sports Centre.
The WolfPack and TWolves were sluggish offensively in the early parts of the first quarter, likely trying to shake off the rust of winter break. After the opening stanza, UNBC held a 17-14 lead. The Timberwolves were scoring by committee, while Michelle Bos was the early leader for the Pack with 8 points.
The Timberwolves began to pull away in the second frame with an early pair of three pointers from Alina Shakirova setting the tone. The Moscow native is known for her defensive tenacity, but her long-range shooting gave the home team a little breathing room at halftime, as they led 38-26.
It was the third quarter that all but sealed the game for the Timberwolves as they were able to shut the door in their own end, and score in transition at the other end. A 20-0 run to end the quarter was led by Shakirova, who continued her hot shooting, and Maria Mongomo who had a pair of steals that led to layups. After thirty minutes, the TWolves held a 63-33 lead.
"Our shots just weren't falling tonight," said Wolfpack veteran Kanesha Reeves. Our defense was pretty good, but offensively we need to make those shots and find a way to get to the free-throw line a bit more."
With the gap hovering around 30 points, both Scott Reeves and Sergey Shchepotkin were able to look to their benches to give some valuable experience to a number of younger players on their respective rosters. Freshman Emily Ferguson was a spark for the visitors, making both her three-point attempts, while first-year Cevanna Carlson was impressive in extended minutes for UNBC. When the final buzzer sounded, the Timberwolves were victorious 78-55.
Shakirova, who came off the bench, led all scorers with 18 points, while adding seven rebounds and four assists. Vasiliki Louka had a double-double with 11 points and 16 rebounds, while Mongomo had 16 points and eight rebounds, and Madison Landry chipped in with 13 points and six assists.
"My teammates were finding me for good shots," said Shakirova. "We were playing good team defense, especially in the third quarter. It gave us confidence, and my team was believing in me."
Kanesha Reeves was the high scorer for the Pack, scoring 11 points on a trio of three-pointers. Leilani Carney played her usual all-around game, chipping in with eight points six rebounds, while Ferguson and Lauren Walkley had six points off the bench. TRU leading scorer Michelle Bos notched eight points in the opening quarter but didn't manage another point the rest of the game.
"We need to keep a similar defensive pressure. They have some really key players. Louka is an amazing post player," said Reeves postgame. "They have a lot of players who run the floor well, and today, they had players step up and make shots."
The victory snaps the Timberwolves four-game losing streak, as they improve to 7-4 on the season. The WolfPack fall to 4-7. The two teams will reunite Saturday night at the Northern Sport Centre in Prince George.
"Every game is a new game. We can't think about this one," said Shakirova. "We start zero-zero, and we will need to come with even more effort. We know they are a really strong team, and they need points, so we will need to be good."