The Alberta Pandas came off a huge sweep at home to the Victoria Vikes and vaulted over the #2 team in the nation to a tie for first place in Canada West with Regina.
Anneka Bakker hit a last second three-ball Saturday night to give the Pandas a 67-66 win in front of a crowd of just over 400 at the Main Gym at the University of Alberta. In a league where the last-second shot appears very seldom, due to a pretty unbalanced quality of competition at the university level, I commend Bakker not only for making the shot, but also for Alberta giving her an opportunity to shoot the three for the win instead of taking the two to tie. In our double-double counter, Georgia Popovici had 14 points and 11 boards for the Pandas in just 22 minutes.
The teams also played Friday, where Alberta won a little more handedly 82-71 thanks to having outscored Victoria 27-20 in the fourth quarter. Marisa Haylett (who sat behind me in chemistry class in high school) had another strong game, putting up 20, as did Nicole Clarke. Popovici would also score 22 points.
Leaders for the Vikes included Debbie Yeboah, who put up 39 on the weekend, while Kayla Dykstra put together 32 points and draw 12 rebounds. The Vikes drop to 9-3 while Alberta find themselves at 9-1 going into winter break.
On the subject of game-winning shots, Nicole Wierks collected her own offensive rebound and scored with 4 ticks on the clock to give the UFV Cascades a 65-64 win over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack Friday night. Wierks had just six points in the contest, but the two that mattered. Tessa Klassen was her only teammate to break double-digits, popping 13 and going 6-for-13.
UFV outshot TRU 42%-29%, with the 'Pack being paced by Tracy Kocs at 6-for-14 and Jen Ju at 5-for-12.
Saturday was not even close, and UFV took another step forward for their young program, sending TRU to 7-5 and improving their own record to 4-6 with a 70-55 victory to complete the home sweep. Alyssa Gaukel had the team-high 14 for the Cascades, while Klassen had an impressive six assists to go along with her 11 points. Aieisha Luyken also had six dimes, with the UFV team beating TRU 33-14 on the weekend in that department.
The #3 ranked Regina Cougars swept the Calgary Dinos this weekend at home, winning two tight games. Lindsay Ledingham hit two crucial free throws on Friday to give the Cougars a late lead, and they would hang on for the 64-62 decision. Ledingham had a game-high 19 points on the night, with 11 coming off of free throws. Regina had some strong paint presence, being sent to the line 30 times to Calgary's 16 despite being out-rebounded 52-41. Ledingham, and Calgary opposite Alex Cole both had double-doubles on the night.
On Saturday, Calgary led by 2 going into the final quarter, but Regina would pull ahead on strong play by leading scorer Joanna Zalesiak, who had a 19 point, 11 board double-double while teammate Anne Mercer put up 10 and 14. This game, Regina wasn't going to be out-boarded, with a 57-34 rebound margin, they were also sent to the line 34 times to Calgary's 10, with an 18-point differential from the charity stripe.
Tilly Ettinger put up a team-high 15 on Saturday. Calgary drops to 3-7 while Regina improved to 8-2 and found themselves ranked #2 on Tuesday.
In other news... the Winnipeg Wesmen improved their record to 7-2 with a home sweep of the lowly Trinity Western Spartans. A strong Spartan fourth on Friday brought the final score to a respectable 68-64, but on Saturday, we saw our second shutout-quarter of the season (Regina did the same thing to Lethbridge in Week 3) and Winnipeg steamrolled the Spartans 62-34. Alex MacIver led the Wesmen with 30 points and 17 boards on the weekend. Trinity drop to 1-11.
The UBC Thunderbirds blew out the afore-mentioned Lethbridge Pronghorns twice this weekend to the tune of 77-64 and 94-55 scores. Alex Vieweg had 21 on Thursday and 19 on Friday. The Thunderbirds as a whole shot 59% on the second game, led by Vieweg (8-for-11) Zara Huntley (9-for-13) Lia St.-Pierre (5-for-8) and Devan Lisson (4-for-7). UBC find themselves back in the thick of things after their fourth straight win and are now tied with TRU at 7-5. Lethbridge find themselves at 2-10, losers of 8-straight.
Finally, the Brandon Bobcats could not pick up their first win on the season against their provincial rival Manitoba Bisons in a series that at least one team had to win, dropping 90-47 and 95-62 decisions. Mubo Ilelaboye had an 11-point, 14-board double-double Saturday, to go with 23 points on Friday, but it was her Bison teammate Kayla Klassen who's 27 points paced the Manitoba squad. She also had a game-high Saturday with 18. Manitoba are now at 3-6 while Brandon are 0-10.
We head to the break, which means we have a month without Canada West basketball. Sometime next week I should have RPI rankings and a full first-half analysis of the conference.
On a bit of a local programming note, simply because this is too funny to pass up, our men's basketball team at Thompson Rivers signed a new player this week. Tim Unaegbu, at the home opener, sunk a half-court shot in a halftime competition to win an iPad and weeks later, is now playing for the WolfPack. I guess when you're 1-9 (now 1-11) you need to pull anybody out of the stands...
In all seriousness though, if I may provide an endorsement for Unaegbu, I will. He's a very popular and recognized athlete on campus, coming off a 5-year soccer career and formerly played ball for TRU when they were still known as the UCC Sun Demons competing in the BCCAA. He's a great guy, and I wish him the best as a member of TRU WolfPack basketball team.
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