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Mongomo goes big again, TWolves hold off Heat 72-70

The UBC Okanagan Heat pushed the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves to the final buzzer, with the TWolves holding on for a 72-70 win on Saturday in Kelowna.

Chances were tough to come by in the first quarter, as both the Timberwolves and Heat were unable to convert open looks, while also running into issues with turnovers. At the midpoint, UNBC increased the defensive intensity, which led to a five minute scoring drought for UBCO, and an 11-0 TWolves run. At the end of the quarter, it was 18-11 in favour of the visitors.

Maria Mongomo picked up where she left off on Friday night, scoring five points in the first minute of the second quarter. However, unlike a night previous when the Timberwolves used a massive quarter to pull away from UBCO, this one was a far more competitive contest.

Jaeli Ibbetson did well to chip in in the paint, while Mira Witt came off the bench to make a pair of jumpers. Late in the quarter, UNBC got a trey and layup on consecutive possessions from Madison Landry to re-establish the margin. At halftime, the Timberwolves held a 44-29 lead, fueled by Mongomo’s 19 points and 11 rebounds.

The Heat must have been inspired by coach Bobby Mitchell’s message at half, as they came out firing in the third quarter. The play increased in physicality, which seemed to suit UBCO perfectly as Jordan Korol and Jaeli Ibbetson each got their preferred spots and made good on their looks.
The Timberwolves’ lead was cut to just a single point with four minutes remaining as Tessa Burton and Kasey Patchell made big three-pointers for the home side. UNBC held a narrow three point lead after thirty minutes.

“The physicality was overwhelming at times, but I think our team made adjustments and we had to answer to their physicality and aggression,” said UNBC’s Landry. “I think their physicality and rebounding were key in closing the gap from last night.”

In the fourth, the pesky Heat would not go away. Every time the TWolves would make a bucket, UBCO would respond. With less than two minutes remaining, Mongomo made a tough jumper to stretch the UNBC lead to five points, but the Heat again cut it to two points with thirty seconds remaining. UBCO had one final chance in the dying seconds as they got three point blank looks, but were unable to get it to go, falling 72-70 to the TWolves.

“UBCO had a lot of energy and fire tonight. You could tell they wanted to win really badly, and they fought till the end,” said Landry, postgame. “Teams shouldn’t take them lightly. They have great players.”

Mongomo led the way for UNBC with 30 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Landry added 20 points, while Emily Holmes had nine points and four assists, and Emma vanBruinessen chipped in with seven points, nine boards, and three steals.

Ibbetson continued her tremendous freshman campaign with 23 points and nine rebounds, to go along with five assists. Korol added a 15 point, 10 rebound double double, while Kelsey Falk was a monster on the glass with 16 rebounds.

The Heat now get ready to take on the Winnipeg Wesmen next weekend, while the Timberwolves play host to the Brandon Bobcats at the Northern Sport Centre in Prince George.

“This weekend we were so unified. It felt effortless and fun playing. We used everyone’s strengths and everyone stepped up to play,” said Landry. “Next weekend, I hope our newer players bring the confidence they developed and carry that into the rest of the season. We had five career highs for scoring from Rebecca, Ana, Emma, Lucy, and Maria so I think everyone can bring a new level of confidence.”

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