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Mongomo’s record night leads TWolves to 104-54 win over Heat

Maria Mongomo needed nine points to become the UNBC Timberwolves all-time leading scorer. The native of Las Palmas, Spain got that, and some, scoring 35 points to lead the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves to a 104-54 win over the UBC Okanagan Heat on Friday in Kelowna.

The Heat came out the more aggressive team, jumping out to an early 10-3 lead in the opening five minutes. Sergey Shchepotkin put his team into a zone defense, which created a string of Heat turnovers leading to TWolves opportunities. Maria Mongomo made a pair of three-pointers, while freshman reserve Rebecca Landry made layups on back to back possessions to make it a game early on.  After ten minutes, UNBC held a 19-18 advantage.

Things were even early in the second quarter, as the Heat got to the paint and earned second-chance points from the hands of Jordan Korol and Jaeli Ibbetson, while Emma vanBruinessen found herself open for good looks at the other end, showing her range with some converted jumpers for UNBC. History was made late in the half, when Maria Mongomo took a pass and buried a three-pointer to score the 1499th point of her career. That eclipsed her longtime teammate Vasiliki Louka for most in UNBC history. At the end of a 27-10 quarter, The TWolves led 46-28.

“We had a slow start and had to make adjustments early on to our regular game plays. This was fueled by other players stepping up and everyone buying into the team goal,” said UNBC’s Emily Holmes.  “We needed patience on offence, looking for the best quality look. We did that and we were successful.”

UNBC continued to push the pace in the third frame, attacking the Heat with a well-balanced attack. UBCO got some timely shooting from Alessia Brutto and Kelsey Falk, but UNBC was able to answer nearly every time. Mongomo continued to assert herself, making a pair of late treys, while reserves Lucy Guan and Anastasia Soltes ran the offense to Coach Shchepotkin’s liking. At the end of the stanza, it was the Timberwolves held a 79-42 lead on Bobby Mitchell’s Heat.

The depth of the TWolves was the story as this matchup completed in the fourth quarter. Rebecca Landry, who came in averaging 2.9 points per game on the season, scored a career high 17 points, while vanBruinessen shot 7-for-9 for 17 points, to go along with eight rebounds. When the final buzzer sounded, UNBC had earned a 104-54 victory.

“Our bench is short due to unfortunate injuries. It has forced some of our younger players to step up, play big minutes, and have a positive impact,” said Holmes. “They all played fearlessly tonight, and it created a trust on the court and belief that everyone was capable of being the scorer on the next play.”

Mongomo led the way for UNBC with 35 points, to go along with seven rebounds and five steals. Madison Landry added 10 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, while freshman Anastasia Soltes had nine points and three steals off the bench. The TWolves shot 58.8% from the field, while holding the Heat to 26.0% shooting.

“Maria really stepped up for us this game and was focused on the team effort and win. When we told her she broke the record she didn’t know and cared more about our team win and effort everyone put forward,” said Holmes, of her longtime running mate. “I’ve been her teammate for 5 years and she is a talented basketball player. I’m proud and thankful I’ve been a part of her career and see her achieve such milestones.”

UBCO was paced by Ibbetson, who had 10 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists. Falk added seven points and 10 boards.

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