Energized by 1500 School District 57 students cheering them on, the University of Northern British Columbia Women’s Basketball team took out the Grant MacEwan Griffins 84-63 on Friday, February 7th, in Prince George, B.C.
“It was amazing, even lining up for the anthem, and everyone was singing,” said UNBC’s Madison Landry. “The whole crowd went crazy, so it was so awesome having them there. It was really cute, and we really appreciated it.”
In the first quarter, with the Northern Sport Centre buzzing with energy, both teams came out with a frenetic pace. It was the TWolves out to an early lead thanks to Canada West All-Star Maria Mongomo burying a three-pointer and layup in the early minutes. MacEwan would settle down, leaning on Mackenzie Farmer, who had nine points in the opening frame. UNBC held 17-12 lead after ten minutes.
In the second quarter, the Timberwolves picked up the pace. Despite having just six players at his disposal, Sergey Shchepotkin got his team running in transition, leading to good looks for Mongomo and Madison Landry. They’d win the quarter 26-12, and held a 43-24 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Griffin’s shooting kept them close as Drew Knox, Hayley Lalor, and Hannah Gibb all made three-pointers. At the other end, fourth-year forward Emma vanBruinessen showed her grit with a number of offensive rebounds and putbacks. She had seven points and seven rebounds in the frame, and UNBC was up 65-45 with one quarter to go.
“She has been so key at both ends of the floor,” said Landry of vanBruinessen. “Without her, it would be next to impossible. The last few games she has found a way to score, and she has been huge for our team.”
The TWolves were able to hold off the Griffins from there. Farmer gave the UNBC defense trouble with her ability to penetrate and kick it to open shooters, and GMU showed great character, but the Mongomo-vanBruinessen-Landry trio was too big and too strong. At the final buzzer, UNBC had earned their seventh consecutive victory with an 84-63 win.
“It was a little bit frustrating, but I thought they outworked us in the first half,” said Farmer. “We responded well, at times, but we were on our back foot. They took advantage.”
Three TWolves hit the 20-point plateau, as Mongomo led the way with 21 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and five steals. Landry added 20 points, three boards, and two assists, while vanBruinessen poured in 20 points, 12 rebounds, and four steals. Freshman Rebecca Landry had 13 points, and Emily Holmes played forty minutes for the third consecutive game.
“Every week, it seems like there is something new,” said Landry, of her team’s injury woes. “The six we do have continue to play together. We are playing for the players who are injured, because they give us so much support. It is tough physically, but we have so much backup emotionally.”
Farmer was the leader for the Griffins, with 16 points, seven rebounds, and three dimes. Knox scored 10 points to go along with five rebounds, while Hannah Gibb made three treys for nine points.
“It was a good environment for us, because we had to rely on each other and the communication on the court, because you couldn’t hear much,” said Farmer. “Tomorrow, we need to bring the effort. Diving on balls, and helping each other up.”
The two teams will meet again on Saturday night, to round out the Canada West regular season.