Playing their final home game of the regular season, the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves held off a gritty effort from the Grant MacEwan Griffins to earn their eighth consecutive victory with an 80-62 win on Saturday in Prince George.
In the first quarter, it was the UNBC seniors who stepped up. Maria Mongomo opened the game with a three-pointer, and her fellow fifth-year Emily Holmes made a pair of treys of her own, as the Timberwolves looked to be the more energetic program in the early going. Mackenzie Farmer did well to slash to the hoop for a pair of tough hoop and harm buckets, but the TWolves held a 23-9 lead after ten minutes.
In the second frame, UNBC’s pace on the offensive end slowed a little, likely a result of playing again with just six players. The Griffins were unable to take advantage, as their offense went stagnant as well. Shannon Majeau’s length proved to be effective as she earned a pair of putbacks, but the TWolves’s post Emma vanBruinessen picked up her game on the offensive glass, picking up points off rebounds. The TWolves led 45-21 at halftime.
In the opening minutes of the second half, it was the Griffins who came out inspired. Farmer continued to slash with great success, while Hayley Lalor did well to earn a tough bucket, as GMU cut into the deficit. The Griffins would go on a 14-2 run, but Maria Mongomo put her stamp on the game by bullying her way to the hoop for UNBC buckets. After three quarter, it was the Timberwolves leading 56-39.
“In the first half, we were kind of getting outworked a little bit, but we just came out ready in the second half,” said MacEwan’s Majeau. “It was our last twenty minutes of the season, so we just left it all out there. Everyone was giving those extra effort plays that got us those 50-50 balls back.”
The Griffins continued to work hard and earn their points in the final frame, as Majeau asserted herself well with four early points. Mongomo continued to drive the TWolves at the other end, but got good contributions from the Landry sisters, Madison and Rebecca. When the final buzzer sounded, UNBC had their eight consecutive victory with 80-62 win.
Mongomo led the way with 29 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, and three steals, claiming the Canada West scoring title in the process. Holmes added 13 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Emma vanBruinessen hauled in 17 rebounds, to go along with seven points and six steals.
“I really appreciate it, and I think that it’s a good example of for how working hard always gets a good result,” said Mongomo. “I’ve been working hard and focusing on what I had to do, and this was the result.”
For MacEwan, Majeau drove the bus offensively. She’d go for 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Farmer added 16 points and 4 boards. Darian Mahmi also scored in double figures with 12 points.
“We’re still young. We’re having the same team next year. We don’t really have any graduating players, so going into next year we’re basically starting from where we are now,” said Majeau. “It’s just really exciting because we’re all going to be here and we can build off of this season.”
The game marked the final homecourt appearance for Holmes and Mongomo, who each played their full five-year careers with the Timberwolves. UNBC will now head to Lethbridge for a playoff matchup with the Pronghorns.
“We came together and we definitely fought for it tonight, and it wasn’t easy,” said Holmes, postgame. “Everyone showed up to play, and made it easy for each other, which made the game fun. When the game is fun, it doesn’t get any better than that.”