With former juggernauts Simon Fraser once again playing in an American conference, the door is open for one of the other thirteen Canada West women's basketball teams to step up and look for a national title.
After earning a bronze at last year's CIS women's championship, the Saskatchewan Huskies travelled with their male counterparts to War Memorial Gym to take on the UBC Thunderbirds in what was this weekend's premier series.
On Friday, Kim Tulloch led the way for the Huskies with a game high in points with 24 and dropped four dimes and six boards as the Huskies eked out four close quarter victories for an eventual 73-65 win. The difference in the game came from beyond the arc, with the Huskies going 6-15 and the T-Birds going 0-8. The aforementioned Tulloch went 4-5. SFU transfer Katie Miyazaki and Jill Humbert put up 16 points each, with Humbert hitting 2-4 treys.
Saturday's contest was not quite as close. A 17-point third quarter margin from the Huskies led them to a 66-40 victory and a weekend sweep. UBC shot just 23.2 per cent from the field and were out-rebounded 29-40. Veteran Jana Spindler led the way with 16 points and a game-high six rebounds--five of them defensive--in the win.
The Huskies tip-off against the Victoria Vikes in their home opener next weekend, while UBC will have a quick drive down the Eastbound 1 to Langley to play the Spartans.
How 'bout them Victoria Vikes: after a 14-4 regular season, finishing 2nd to SFU in the Pacific Division last year, expectations are high for this team to make the CIS tournament for the first time. Coach of the year Brian Cheng saw his team get off to a solid 2-0 home start against the Calgary Dinos with 73-57 and 81-67 victories on Friday and Saturday night, respectively.
Former CIS Player of the Year Kayla Dykstra had game-highs for points in both games, with 18 and 22 point nights. Defensive rebounding proved to be the key, as it often is. Dykstra had nine on Friday as the Vikes team out-did Calgary 36-24, with an additional seven from Cassandra Goodis in just 20 minutes of play. The Dinos did get strong performances from veteran Ashley Hill, who had a team-high 16 on Friday and 15 on Saturday.
It's time for "This Week in Jen Ju" as the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack (capital W, capital P) got off to a 2-0 road start against the Brandon Bobcats. The gritty 'Pack guard Ju ran the floor Friday with a team-high 19 points and was 9-15 from the field in a 70-60 win. Saturday's affair was a blowout for the WolfPack, 74-34, as they get off to their second consecutive 2-0 start. Brandon shot terribly on Saturday, 24.5 per cent from the field, and a staggering 8-17 from the charity stripe. Ju had just 7 points for the 'Pack, but was propped up with 11 boards and ten points from The Stabilizer Diane Shuetze, her first double-double on the year.
The last weekend-set was between the Trinity Western Spartans and the Lethbridge Pronghorns, in what was also the only series decided by a split this weekend. The Horns dispatched TWU 65-44 Friday night outshooting the Spartans 49 per cent to 28 per cent and dominating off the glass 47-27. The Spartans shook off the rust, went 27-54 from the field, 6-13 beyond the arc (thanks in large part to a turnaround from Emily Knauff) and beat the Horns 73-62.
Finally, the Winnipeg Wesmen visted their cross-town Manitoba Bisons for a Friday night affair, with Winnipeg coming out on top 65-47 thanks to a double-double by Stephanie Kleysen. It was a sloppy affair, with 38 combined fouls and 34 combined turnovers.
Next week, every team but Winnipeg find themselves in action. Saskatchewan hosting Victoria is obviously the premier matchup. Both teams shot and defended well this weekend, and the Vikes' Kayla Dykstra is the early leader in both scoring and rebounding.
Lethbridge travel up the QE2 to face the Dinos in their home-opener, Alberta travel to Thompson Rivers, the Bisons visit UFV in their season-and-home opener, Brandon will visit the preseason #1 Regina Cougars. All games are double-headers, Friday and Saturday games.