Tuesday, November 09, 2010

My job schedule worked perfectly this weekend to allow me to watch my first full Thompson Rivers WolfPack women's game of the season, a Friday night affair against the Trinity Western Spartans. I was very impressed with their depth and ball movement. Jen Ju, who assured me of a weekend sweep for the 'Pack Thursday night, is making a case of one of the premier point guards in the Canada West Conference.

The WolfPack took 138 shots this weekend and were hitting in the 40% range with a pair of victories over the Spartan women 75-59 and 75-49. On Friday for the WolfPack it was Ju and first-year guard Jorri Duxbury. On Saturday it was 17 more from Ju and a 15-point, 7-rebound effort from the Stabilizer Diane Schuetze. The wins are enough to distract campus from our men's team losing two games by a combined 90 points.

Meanwhile, in news of more celebrated teams Victoria, Regina and Saskatchewan, all ranked in the first CIS Top 10 coach's poll of the year, were all in action, with all three teams sweeping their respective weekend series.

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The #6 Saskatchewan Huskies met the rebuilding Fraser Valley Cascades at home this weekend. Friday was a milestone night for fifth-year guard Kim Tulloch who scored her 1000th career point for the Huskies in a 22-point, 5-rebound performance in an 89-72 win. She becomes the 8th in team history to reach the milestone. Sarah Wierks had a 20-point, 12-board double-double in a losing effort for the Cascades.

The Cascades came closer in the Sunday game, winning the second half 45-34 but ultimately falling 80-73. Al Tuchscherer, one of the few tweeting CIS coaches (find him on Twitter @go_cascades) said his team was "learning how to compete with the elite teams" after the Sunday loss. The Huskies are stacked, and winning the second half of the road is a huge stepping stone for a rebuilding team. It will be interesting to see if they can keep up with the Victoria Vikes next weekend, another tough task on a devilishly evil early season schedule for the Cascades.

I guess I should mention Jill Humbert had 29 and Katie Miyazaki had 15 in the Sunday win for the Huskies. They shake off the demons from the losses to the Vikes last week and climb to 4-2.

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Speaking of the Vikes, the #2 team nationally played a couple of throwaway games against the Manitoba Bisons at home this weekend, more than doubling the surely jet-lagged visitors who came off the longest flight on the CIS schedule. 88-41 was the Friday score, with 23 off an 11-16 performance from Debbie Yeboah and a near double-double from Kayla Dykstra who had 15 and 9 boards. The Vikes out-rebounded the Bisons 46-27 and 18-17 off their own shots.

The Saturday score was 86-40. Dykstra finished up the double-double, with 18 and 10 boards. While Victoria went 33-70 from the field, they went just 1-8 from beyond the arc. The Vikes have the highest shooting percentage through six games in the conference but average few shots from three-point land. They are dominating in the paint right now, and it seems to be just a matter of time before their perimeter threats are established. Carmen Lapthorne is 10-13 on the season for three pointers.

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The #3 Regina Cougars were at home to the Lethbridge Pronghorns and swept them on the heels of 73-50 and 68-46 wins. The second game is noteworthy as, well... take a look at this line score:

The Horns were held off the scoresheet for the first 13 minutes of play, which has to be worth an extra point on the standings.

“Throwing a shutout for 13 and a half minutes requires great team defence," Cougars coach Dave Taylor said after the game in what is sure to be the understatement of the season. Joanna Zalesiak's performance shouldn't be discounted; she had 20 on Saturday and a double-double on the Friday.

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The UBC Thunderbirds and Alberta Pandas played their way to a split this weekend. On Friday, UBC rallied after being down by 9 at halftime to take a one-point lead into the fourth only to lose 76-73. Georgia Popovici had a game-high 20 for the Pandas and went 8-for-12 from the field, had 2 assists and 6 rebounds.

The Thunderbirds would get their revenge on Saturday with a 79-66 win, pulling away with a dominant second half after being down by 4 after 20 minutes. Kris Young went 8-for-12 from the field, 2-for-2 on three pointers and put up 23 points in the win. Both teams shot well on the weekend, with the team's combining for 51% through the weekend and 58% on shots from two-point range.

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Finally, the Winnipeg Wesmen played the Calgary Dinos to a pair of four-point victories at home to improve to 3-0 on the season. Friday's game went 60-56, with Winnipeg holding a +8 turnover advantage to avoid the loss despite being outshot 43%-32%. Caitlin Gooch had the game-high 15 points while Stephanie Kleysen had a double-double with 10 points and a weekend-high 15 boards, 11 coming offensively, which are big in a game in which you're getting outshot.

The Saturday score was 55-51, with the Dinos blowing a 5-point halftime margin and falling to 1-4 on the year. Kleysen put up another double-double (13 points 12 rebounds) and Gooch had another 23. The Dinos sent the Wesmen to the line 24 times.

***

The teams will continue to play through Remembrance Day weekend, with Calgary being the only team not in action. The featured matchup is the UFV/Victoria series, while Thompson Rivers have a chance to improve to 6-2 taking on the Bisons on the road, an attractive thought for coach Scott Reeves and his players with a cupcake schedule so far.

But with all of the favourites being on the road this week, it certainly leaves open the possibility of a big home upset for a team needing a spark to kickstart their season. Can Lethbridge pull one off against the loaded Huskies? Can Trinity find a miracle against Regina? An interesting weekend lies ahead.


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