T-Birds fight off valiant Vikes comeback attempt to win in double OT

T-Birds fight off valiant Vikes comeback attempt to win in double OT

Aneesa Heatherington/UBC Thunderbirds

VANCOUVER -- With a raucous Thunderstruck crowd of 1,417 behind them, the UBC Thunderbirds outlasted their Vancouver Island rivals from Victoria, 93-85 in double overtime to remain undefeated in U Sports women's basketball action.

The T-Birds came out firing, with Shilpa Khanna nailing a big contested three to put UBC up 10-7 in the first quarter, and Keylyn Filewich got the hoop and the harm to double the Vikes, 30-15 in the second quarter. Maddison Penn let a deep three fly with the shot clock winding down and got a friendly kiss off the glass as the Thunderbirds coasted to a comfortable 47-24 advantage at the half.

A Vikes triple halfway through the third by Amira Giannattasio cut the T-Bird lead to 10, but the Thunderbirds reasserted themselves and were up 60-45 heading into the final frame.

In the fourth, UBC found itself in foul trouble, and Victoria capitalized – narrowing the deficit to just four points after Jenna Bugiardini hit two free throws with 3:40 remaining. Bugiardini then nailed a clutch three with 1:27 left to make it a two point game, and Jenna Krug hit two huge foul shots to complete the comeback at 69-69 with 38 seconds left in regulation time. UBC couldn't close it out as Khanna missed a contested layup – sending it to overtime.  

To start the five-minute extra period, Penn hit a long two before coming up with a steal and drawing a foul – converting both free throws. With a minute left, Penn made her way to the line for the twelfth time and gave her team a momentary lead – but Krug kept pace with two of her own.

Tied 77-77 with 2.1 seconds remaining, Hanson inbounded to Filewich, who's layup rattled off the rim and out.
 
Double overtime was on the docket and Krysten Lindquist opened the scoring on a hard take to the rim. Hanson pulled up for two from the top of the key to put the Thunderbirds up 86-80 with 2:13 to go. Lindquist closed it out with her second free throw of the night as UBC held on to win it, 93-85.

Giannattasio had a team-high 26 points in a whopping 44 minutes for Victoria, going 6 for 10 from three, while Bugiardini earned an impressive double-double with 20 points and 13 boards in 44 minutes in the loss.

UVic head coach Dani Sinclair was pleased with her team's ability to battle back from a 28-point deficit.

"You know, I'm proud of our girls for fighting and continuing to play hard. I know they're going to be disappointed with the loss, but there's a lot to learn from. They made plays at the end and that's what it comes down to. We put ourselves in a position to win the game and at the end of the day that's all you can really ask for."

For the 'Birds, Penn racked up 21 of her 36 points in the first half – finishing with 10 boards, 3 steals and was 15-16 from the free throw line, breaking the UBC record of 14 made from the line held by two former Thunderbirds (Lisa Nickle '93 and Kelsey Blair '04).

"It was so good – a huge team effort. Everyone came together and played their part and that was how we won. For me personally, everyone's having a good laugh off-court, then on court we're coming together well with our passes and execution."
 
Six Thunderbirds played 25 minutes or more, as Khanna notched 14 points and 4 assists in 36 minutes, while Lindquist contributed 11 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.

UBC head coach Deb Huband showed off her team's depth, and was rewarded with 20 points from the bench in the victory. Huband knew the weekend series was another important step in developing her young roster.

"Our first half was pretty outstanding. Credit to them, they came out strong in the second half. Double overtime…you don't have too many of those, so I think this is a real character win for us and an opportunity to learn. With a big crowd like this you get a little tight, so you have to stay cool. The atmosphere was outstanding tonight, and kids were playing with foul trouble. Nobody wants to foul out and everybody's in bonus so they had to play very disciplined defence."

The 6-0 Thunderbirds will test that defence when they host UBCO next weekend, while a 4-4 Victoria squad will face the 1-6 TRU WolfPack.

IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds