BY RICH ABNEY
The University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves had won the past three meetings with the UBC Thunderbirds, but that is where that streak will end. The T-Birds got out to a hot start on Saturday, January 26th, and never looked back, topping the Timberwolves 93-79.
In the opening quarter, UBC’s veterans came out with a chip on the shoulders, as Jess Hanson, Keylyn Filewich, and Maddison Penn asserted themselves in the early going. Hanson bounced back after an off-shooting night on Friday, scoring eight points in the first quarter. After ten minutes of play, the Thunderbirds held a 29-17 lead.
On Friday evening, it was the second frame where the TWolves began to dictate play, but that wasn’t the case in part two the doubleheader. Maria Mongomo bullied her way into the paint, but the T-Birds were able to keep pace with the dynamic visitors. They won the quarter 21-20, and held a 50-37 lead at half.
“They came out and were able to move the ball in transition a lot better,” said UNBC’s Madison Landry. “They have some really talented players, and we didn’t do a good enough job of taking away lanes.”
Deb Huband’s squad didn’t want history to repeat itself and managed its best quarter of the game in the third stanza. The T-Birds were able to get to the glass, forcing UNBC into foul trouble while also earning second-chance opportunities. Penn proved why she is one of the finest players in the conference, converting some tough jumpers. She would finish with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Heading into the fourth quarter, it was a 25-point game, 80-55.
The Timberwolves came out with a purpose in the fourth quarter, pushing the pace and looking to the long ball to try to get back into the game. Abby Gibb and Emily Holmes made three-pointers on back-to-back possessions, drawing the deficit to 16 with six minutes to play. However, the TWolves would run out of clock, despite a better effort in the quarter that saw them outscore the T-Birds 24-13.
With the 93-79 victory, the Thunderbirds improve to 13-5 heading into the final week of the season, while the Timberwolves drop to 10-8.
“We obviously wanted a sweep after a good effort yesterday, but a split against a good team like UBC is okay,” said Landry. “We showed some fight in the fourth quarter, which we can build on. We just spotted them too many points and couldn’t get back into it.”
Penn was the game’s high scorer with 20 points, while Hanson had 19 points and five assists. Filewich, Hailey Counsell, and Madison Legault all scored in double-digits for the Thunderbirds.
Madison Landry led the Timberwolves offensively for the second consecutive night, notching 19 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Vasiliki Louka also had 19 points, while Maria Mongomo, Alina Shakirova, and Abby Gibb all reached double figures.
The TWolves finish off their Canada West schedule with a home weekend against the Lethbridge Pronghorns, while the T-Birds visit the Alberta Pandas.