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Timberwolves earn gritty 86-79 comeback victory over Dinos

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The UNBC Timberwolves fell behind 13-0 to start the game but came storming back, gutting out a memorable 86-79 win over the Calgary Dinos on Friday in Prince George.

The Dinos came out firing in the first quarter, jumping out to an early 13-0 lead, utilizing six points from Annacy Palmer as the TWolves struggled to generate much in the way of offense. Sergey Shchepotkin called a timeout and his message clearly landed with his team. UNBC went on a 17-3 run of their own, as Amrit Manak made a trio of three-pointers and captain alina Shakirova earned a pair of touch and-ones in the paint. After ten minutes, the Dinos held a 21-17 lead.

The second frame saw the TWolves continue their inspired play. Sarah Kuklisin tormented the Calgary defenders with her ability to penetrate, leading to buckets for herself and veteran post Cevanna Carlson. However, the Dinos are not one of the better teams in Canada by accident. Damien Jennings’s team settled down as six-foot-two guard Polyanna Storie took the reins and earned herself some tough points in close.

UNBC continued to battle against a Calgary lineup full of six-footers, showing their mettle on home court. Shakirova continued to assert herself and the Timberwolves held a 43-32 lead after twenty minutes.

Former UNBC star Madison Landry began to truly show her quality in the second half for the Dinos, using her length and ball-handling to get easy layups, however the gritty Timberwolves would not go away. Kuklisin made a tough layup in transition to give UNBC an eight point lead midway through the frame, but the Dinos came storming back. Louise Rouse made a tough bucket and Mya Proctor began to dictate play using her combination of size and shooting to give UNBC trouble. With one quarter to go, the Timberwolves held a 65-64 advantage.

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair as the fans at the Northern Sport Centre were treated to an instant classic. Storie made a three but that was answered by Shakirova. Landry made a layup but Olivia Wilson equaled that for UNBC. Palmer hit a three to give the Dinos a three point lead, but Sveta Boykova made a timely jumper for the TWolves.

With UNBC up by four with less than four minutes remaining, UNBC dug in and showed why they’re a better team than their record suggested. Manak made her fourth trey of the game to stretch the lead to eight, and the Timberwolves defended with great grit, as Shakirova and Laura Garmendia Garcia created turnovers on Calgary possessions. Eventually, the NSC crowd rose to its feet and the TWolves earned an 86-79 win.

Shakirova led the way with 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals for UNBC, while Boykova was strong in the post with 15 points and ten boards. Manak had a career-high 14 points off the bench, while Kuklisin added 13 points and eight assists.

Landry and Palmer paced the Dinos with 17 points apiece, while Storie was tremendous with 16 points, 10 assists, and five boards. Rouse had 15 points and eight rebounds, while Proctor added ten points.

The win is UNBC’s first of the campaign, while the loss drops Calgary to 5-2 on the season. The two teams will meet again on Saturday night in Prince George.

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