The University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves were shorthanded underdogs, but battled to the final buzzer, eventually losing 67-58 to the #2 ranked team in U SPORTS, the University of Calgary Dinos on Saturday, January 4th in Calgary, Alberta.
The Timberwolves knew it was the first half that led to their demise on Friday night, and looked to correct that in game two of the doubleheader. Madison Landry led the way offensively, registering eight points and three rebounds, and the TWolves led their undefeated opponents 15-13 after ten minutes.
UNBC continued their strong play early in the second frame, and stretched their lead to eight points on a pair of Alina Shakirova scoring plays in the paint. However, Calgary’s depth began to give the TWolves problems, as a unit led by Bobbi-Jo Colburn and four reserves did well to go on a run and actually take the lead late in the half. The Dinos held a slim 35-31 advantage at the buzzer, led by nine points from Colburn. Landry was the UNBC high scorer with 13.
“We came out ready to fight, and we were way more prepared for their aggression and pressure,” said UNBC guard Emily Holmes. “Everyone bought into Coach’s gameplan and were just way more focused.”
Damian Jennings’ Dinos looked to pull away from the scrappy Timberwolves in the third quarter, stretching the margin to ten on some good ball movement and big shots. However, the visitors from Prince George wouldn’t go away, as Landry continued to get to the line, and veteran guard Emily Holmes made a big trey to cut the margin to just three points late in the frame. Disaster struck for UNBC with three minutes remaining when, already having lost forward Cevanna Carlson to injury in the first half, saw Shakirova go down with an apparent leg injury and have to be carried off the court. After the third quarter, Calgary led 48-42.
“Losing Cevanna and Alina was massive. They are so important to what we do on a nightly basis” said Holmes. “After their injuries, we did our best to fight for them and push back. It could have really deflated us, but we had some players really step up.”
With a short bench, Sergey Shchepotkin looked to freshman Rebecca Landry, who made a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to a single point early in the final stanza. With two minutes to go, a Liene Stalidzane corner three gave the Dinos a two point lead that was doubled by a Colburn layup in the paint just seconds later. The #2 ranked team in Canada would not let go of the lead from there, holding off a gritty UNBC effort to take it 67-58.
The Dinos were led Colburn with 22 points, while Stalidzane had 15 points and Erin McIntosh had 11.
The Timberwolves were paced by Landry, who had 20 points. Shakirova had 12 points before exiting with an injury, and Holmes chipped in a season-high 10 points.
“I think this really reflects that we can compete with anyone, if we play our game and believe in ourselves,” said Holmes, postgame. “We are capable of competing with the best teams in this league, and it really comes down to effort and attitude.”