The TRU WolfPack made a game of it, but Alina Shakirova and the UNBC Timberwolves were too much for the young Pack, earning a 68-51 win on Friday, November 5th, in Prince George, BC.
In the first quarter, the WolfPack got out to a quick start, using speed and transition to generate a Daniela Kovacevic layup and Josie Mackie jumper and the early lead. However the TWolves settled in, thanks to a big and-1 play from Rebecca Landry and some hot shooting from veteran Alina Shakirova.
After ten minutes, the TWolves led 20-13, powered by Shakirova’s 11 points.
In the second frame, the sledding got tough for both teams as the physicality picked up and shooting cooled off. TRU did well to create chaos at the defensive end, and the Timberwolves did themselves no favours, missing a number of open looks. The WolfPack showed their tenacity on offense, as well, clawing back into the game against a tired UNBC defense
At the half, UNBC held a 27-22 lead. Shakirova, though scoreless in the second, had 11 at the half, while Kovacevic paced the Pack with seven points and three rebounds. UNBC shot 10-for-32, while TRU went 8-for-30.
The Timberwolves came out hungry in the third quarter, with Shakirova regaining her shooting form in the early going, The Russian forward converted a hoop-and-harm situation, followed by a corner three to stretch the UNBC advantage to 37-29.
However, it was again the young visitors who battled back. Kelsey Cruz, Jessica Orr, and Elana Sireni each made three-pointers for TRU, as UNBC saw their lead deplete down to two points late in the quarter. The Timberwolves led 42-37 with ten minutes to go.
“They were pretty aggressive with their press and we were struggling a bit,” said Garmendia Garcia. “They had some really good plays on offense. We had to watch out for their bisg and their slashing guards.”
In the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves pulled away. Sveta Boykova extended a number of possessions, as Shakirova, Landry, Sarah Kuklisin, and Laura Garmendia Garcia socred big buckets to send the home crowd home happy. When the buzzer sounded, UNBC earned a 68-51 victory to improve to 2-1.
Shakirova led with way with 22 points, to go along with ten boards, four assists, and three steals. Landry added 13 points and six rebounds, Garmednia Garcia had 10 points, and Boykova grabbed 15 rebounds.
“Sveta had great rebounding, so many players got on the scoreboard, and we were all so committed,” said Garmendia Garcia. “This was our first home game, after practicing for two years. Everyone wanted to bring something to this game.”
Kovacevic was the leading scorer for the pack, dropping 14 points along with four rebounds and four steals. Cairnie and Orr each chipped in 11 points for the visitors.
The two teams will clash again on Saturday, at the Northern Sport Centre.
“We have to keep working as hard as we did today. We had moments where it wasn’t working out, but we managed to make it work,” said UNBC’s Garmendia Garcia. “We have to have that mentality. That’s why we are a team. Keep pushing everyone to be their best and hopefully it’ll be as good as today’s ending.”