After work I had a chance to catch the final few minutes of the TRU WolfPack and Alberta Pandas Friday night game, and was impressed by the Pandas for two things: One, the Pandas shut down the perimeter with a 64-61 late lead and forced the WolfPack to penetrate with little success and, two, one possession after a steal towards the end of the game saw Alberta work the ball faster than the 'Pack could follow, before setting up a Panda player (I think it was Georgia Popovici, but I'm not 100 per cent sure) left wide open in the paint for the clinching bucket.
The WolfPack fell to 2-2 on the weekend with 77-68 and 72-65 losses. Alberta, based on the strong play of their veterans Katie Arbuthnot and Marisa Haylett (the former Kitsilano Blue Demon who sat behind me in Grade 11 chemistry class) open their season at 2-0.
One short sequence can't paint a picture for the entire season, and there are other results to get to from this weekend's Canada West women's basketball action. The marquee matchup was the Victoria Vikes visit to the Saskatchewan Huskies. Kayla Dykstra came up big for U-Vic on the Friday game, potting 18 second-half points for a total of 20 along with eight boards to see the Vikes topple the dogs 77-73. Saskatchewan had a one-point halftime lead, but Victoria came up big on the road in the fourth quarter 23-15. Saskatchewan sent Victoria to the line 27 times to just ten.
On Saturday, another close half score got away from the Huskies in the fourth, this time being outscored 17-8 enroute to a 72-65 loss. Dykstra had a "quiet" 14 point, eight rebound performance and gave way to Carmen Lapthorne, who had 25 in 36 minutes of play. Again, Saskatchewan sent Victoria to the line 25 times. We'll see if this becomes a recurring theme throughout the season, and whether it means head coach Lisa Thomaidis is starting to foul too early.
The UBC Thunderbirds picked up a sweep of Trinity Western and notch their first two wins on the season, with 78-67 and 72-45 affairs, respectively, over Trinity Western. The Spartans out-rebounded the Birds on Friday night but also committed 34 turnovers to UBC's 22. Despite being outshot from the field, UBC were able to hang on. Arianne Duschene led the T-Birds with 14 points, three assists and four steals--all game-highs.
Saturday was not quite a barn-burner as the Spartans were held to single digits in both the second and fourth quarters. Lia St.-Pierre went 7-of-11 from the field with 19 points. Alex Vieweg had nine rebounds and Trinity shot 20 per cent from the field. Score noted above, not much else to see here.
The Lethbridge Pronghorns salvaged another sweep, this time against Southern-Albertan rival Calgary Dinos. The Dinos jumped out to an early lead Friday and won every subsequent quarter to take a 71-53 decision at home. Calgary-to-Lethbridge transfer Becky Heninger had 23 points for the Thorns, but Ashley Hill came alive for Calgary, shooting 8-for-12 beyond the arc and landing an astonishing 34 points. Those eight treys were eight of the ten scored on the night.
But Saturday humbled her: Hill scored just eight and turned over the ball three times. Heninger kept the hot hand, dropping 16 and leading the Horns to a 64-52 win.
After losing two to TRU at home to start the season, to say Brandon were in tough against the Regina Cougars was an understatement. On Friday night, Regina chewed up the Bobcats 106-37. Even crazier was that every Brandon player saw at least eleven minutes of floor time. The Cougars took 93 shots to Brandon's 59, out-rebounded the 'Cats 68-32 (16! from Jennilea Coppola) and moved the ball for 24 dimes. Six of those came from Joanna Zalesiak who also had 15 points.
Saturday was a more modest romping, as Regina took a 22-8 lead after the first quarter and parlayed it into a 92-52 win. Zalesiak scored 16 and picked up seven more assists. Madison Bradbury was the lone bright spot for the Bobcats. She shot 8-for-12 from the field for 20 points.
Finally, the Fraser Valley Cascades opened their season at home to the Manitoba Bisons and swept the so-far winless team with a 71-58 and 72-44 games. Sarah Wierks had 17 points and nine rebounds on Friday for the Cascades.
So far, Victoria are outplaying their early season ranking with an early 4-0 record. The Thunderbirds challenge the Pandas early unbeaten record at War Memorial Arena in next weekend's premier series.