The University of Victoria Vikes took an early lead and never let it go, holding off a late UNBC Timberwolves surge to earn a 70-60 win over the TWolves in Prince George, B.C.
The Vikes came out the hungrier team, pushing the pace and catching the TWolves on their heels. The Victoria pressure resulted in three Maria Mongomo fouls in the first nine minutes of the game, giving UNBC coach Sergey Shchepotkin an issue without his team’s leading scorer in 2018-2019. Ashlyn Day was able to assert herself, and led the Vikes to a 22-12 lead through ten minutes.
In the second quarter, Victoria stretched their lead to 16 points in the first two minutes, before the TWolves woke up and provided some pushback. Madison Landry and Alina Shakirova, who combined for 65 points on Friday, were able to assert themselves and get to the hoop. Backup point guard Lucy Guan played the role of creator, and the deficit was cut to eight by halftime, with Victoria leading 39-31.
“We were really trying to take away their strengths,” said Victoria’s Day. “They played well yesterday, so we were trying to step it up defensively.”
The Vikes’ trend of starting quarters with momentum continued in the third, as Morgan Roskelley and Tana Pankrantz each made corner three-pointers to extend the Victoria lead. At the other end, the Timberwolves went cold, missing their first eight shots of the quarter. UNBC did begin to push back late in the stanza, as Maria Mongomo was able to bully her way to prime scoring location for good looks. At the end of the quarter, Victoria led 57-43.
“It was definitely hard to not get frustrated. We are human,” said UNBC’s Emma vanBruinessen. “We need to focus that anger and frustrating a lot better.”
UNBC came out with a higher level of intensity in the final quarter, as Mongomo continued to assert herself at the offensive end. First-year Anastasia Soltes provided a spark off the bench, using her speed to score four quick points. However, the Vikes did enough at the defensive end to keep the home team at bay. Day provided the offense, scoring 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds, as Victoria took a 70-60 victory.
“We played hard, and this is a tough loss, but we have to take a next play mentality,” said vanBruinessen. “We struggled defensively, and we need to focus on that the next few games.”
Haily Weaver chipped in with 11 points and ten rebounds for Victoria. UNBC was led by Mongomo who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Emma vanBruinessen had 11 points and 10 boards for the double-double.
The Vikes defense proved to be the story, holding the TWolves to 36.7% from the field, on 21-for-57 shooting.
“We focused on the defensive end, looking to shut them down and stay together as a team,” said Day, postgame. “That is something we are looking to focus on this year.”