The University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves put together their most complete effort of the season as they began the second half of the campaign with an 85-49 win over the visiting University of Manitoba Bisons at the Northern Sport Centre on Friday evening.
Led by veteran Alina Shakirova, the Timberwolves built an early lead and never looked back to improve to 2-7 on the season. It’s the team’s second win in its past three Canada West starts. The Bisons suffered their ninth straight loss to open the year.
Shakirova scored a game-high 21 points and chipped in four assists, as five Timberwolves reached double digits in scoring.
Amrit Manak, in her first season of eligibility, contributed 15 points including hitting three of her six three-point attempts.
“We had a rough start to the season, but this win is a big boost for our energy,” Manak said. “It shows the hard work from the past few weeks is paying off.”
Laura Garmendia Garcia had a double-double with 11 points matching her 11 rebounds. Rebecca Landry, making her season debut after returning from injury added 10 points. Jenna Korolek also scored 10 for the home side.
For Manitoba, Brynn Endicott led the way with 13, Lauren Bartlett added 12 and Talia Peters contributed nine, all from long range. The Bisons lost captain Keziah Brothers early in the second half after she fouled out with two unsportsmanlike fouls.
“We weren’t in it from the start, and it just continued through the whole game,” Peters said. “They played well and we did not.”
The Bisons are dealing with injuries, which resulted in the team using different lineup combinations. Peters said the team needs to improve its communication and show more fight.
“It was just a bad day. We just need to come back on Saturday and get at it,” Peters said. “We were prepared, we just didn’t execute.”
While the Timberwolves shot the lights out in the first quarter, going 12-of-18 from the field as a team, Manak credited the team’s defence early on. She said starting off 2023 with a win is key as the Timberwolves look to go on a run in the second half of the year.
“These two games are really important as we look to improve in the standings and push for the playoffs,” she said.
The Timberwolves came out flying, opening the game on a 12-0 run in the first three and a half minutes and building a 31-13 advantage after the first quarter, capped off by a buzzer-beating three from Manak that ricocheted off the rim, back up in the air and then rattled in.
UNBC continued to pour it on in the second quarter, extending the lead to 49-22 at the break.
UNBC was effectively working the ball to a cutting Shakirova, who found her touch around the rim. She scored 15 in the first half on 75 per cent shooting and even picked up her own rebound and finished with another layup.
The second half was more of a back-and-forth affair, with the teams trading baskets.
The two teams return to the court on Saturday for a re-match. Tip-off at the Northern Sport Centre is set for 4 p.m.
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