It took overtime, but the University of Victoria Vikes did enough to edge the UNBC Timberwolves 97-93 and start the Canada West season with a victory on Friday, November 1 at the Northern Sport Centre.
The TWolves took an early lead, thanks to the hot shooting from third-year Alina Shakirova who made back-to-back three-pointers in the opening minutes. The Vikes showed their mettle, however, pushing back to take a 20-16 lead after ten minutes.
In the second quarter, the Vikes used their inside game to take control, playing through UNBC’s zone defense to significant success. Marissa Dheensaw led the way, but it was the Timberwolves pushing back late in the quarter on the back of Madison Landry’s 15 first-half points to hold a 37-36 advantage.
The third quarter was more of the same, with a number of lead changes. Shakirova and Landry continued to pace the home side, while Kristy Gallagher and Ashlyn Day made big buckets for Victoria. After three three quarters, Victoria was clinging to a 58-56 advantage.
UNBC came out firing early in the fourth, with Emma vanBruinessen grinding out a layup in the paint and Shakirova making her 6th three-pointer of the game, followed by an Emily Holmes three. However, the Vikes had an answer, proving why they’re a Nationally-ranked program. Late in the game, the TWolves held a three-point advantage but a huge trey from Morgan Roskelley knotted it and sent it to overtime.
In the extra stanza, UNBC’s Mongomo and vanBruinessen fouled out, leaving Sergey Shchepotkin’s side undersized. They battled, but Dheensaw and the Vikes did enough late to eke out a 97-93 victory.
“It feels really good to get a victory first game and not at home, which is really nice,” said Dheensaw, postgame. “We didn’t really stick to the game plan like we wanted to, so we had to fight in different ways to get it back. UNBC is really good, so it’s good a hard-fought game all the way through.”
Dheensaw led the way with 28 points and eight rebounds, while Gallagher chipped in 21. Day and Weaver also scored in double figures. For UNBC, Shakirova had 36 points while Landry added 29 and five assists. Emily Holmes had a career high 11 assists to go along with six points.
“I would take the victory over 36 points because it was a really tough game,” said Shakirova. “We want to come out with a win, and stats don’t matter to us. It doesn’t matter unless we win.”
The two teams clash again Saturday night at the Northern Sport Centre in Prince George, B.C.
“I think we need to stick together more and talk more off the ball,” said Dheensaw. “I think we don’t need to get so keyed in on two people and just play more of a team defence and be more cohesive.”