Heat fall in second straight to visiting Cougars

Heat fall in second straight to visiting Cougars

Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan

KELOWNA, BC - The Heat fell 80-60 to the University of Regina Cougars in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium on Saturday night. Similar to Friday night's matchup, the visitors once again came alive in the second half. The Heat were able to maintain control for much of the first 20 minutes of play, but after a quick burst after half-time, Regina came out swinging and turned the momentum well in their favour.

The Heat got the scoring started in the second half, with Kennedy making a jump shot at 9:25 in the third quarter and Kanester making her first three-pointer of the game a minute later to make it a one-possession game at 37-34 for the Cougars. Regina then went on a bit of a tear, scoring 11 unanswered points to go up 48-34 halfway through the quarter. A converted Botteselle and-one cut Regina's lead to 16 (55-39) with about two minutes left in the frame, but the Cougars offence, aided by a Katie Polischuk three-pointer with just over a minute left, stretched their lead to 14 heading into the final quarter, up 59-43 at the buzzer.

A pair of three-pointers from Kennedy and Kanester in the first minute and a half of the fourth quarter cut the Regina lead to single digits (60-51), before Christina McCusker answered with free throws and a layup to put the Cougars up 12 (63-51) at the 7:00 mark. The Regina defence was able to hold the Heat to just nine points from that point on, and thanks to an effective offence and only missing one free-throw in the final seven minutes, the Cougars were able to stretch their lead to 20 by the final buzzer.

Regina's Kyanna Giles led all scorers in the game with 18 points and finished just a rebound shy of a double-double. Christina McCusker (11), Katie Polischuk (10), and Avery Pearce (10) also finished with double digits in points for the visitors.

For the Heat, Emily Kanester led the way with 15 points, with Vanessa Botteselle (14) and Chloe Kennedy (13) also finishing in double digits. Jordan Korol was the most effective on the glass, finishing with seven rebounds.

As a team, the Heat shot better from three-point range (38.5% - 30.4%) and from the free-throw line (90.5% - 61.8%). The Cougars finished with the better field goal percentage (41.3% - 33.3%). Rebounds (45-35), assists (13-6), and steals (18-6) were also categories led by Regina on the night.

The first half was split pretty evenly, with the Heat holding a lead (18-17) after the first quarter and the Cougars taking the lead (37-29) into half-time. Statistically, UBCO had a slightly better first twenty minutes, with the advantage in field goal percentage (31.6% - 30.3%) and free throw percentage (88.9% - 68.4%), while the Cougars held better three-point percentage (36.4% - 33.3%).

The ball control was also nearly even, with the Cougars holding a slight advantage in rebounds (20-19), while the Heat were able to put up more second chance points (6-4). Turnovers were an issue for UBCO in the first half, giving the ball up 19 times while only taking it away from Regina 11 times. The ability to steal the ball was a key part of the Cougars' lead after twenty minutes of play, as they were able to record 13 steals while holding the Heat to just four.

The Heat (2-10) will play their next games at home again, when they host the University of Victoria Vikes (6-4) on Friday, January 13 and Saturday, January 14. Regina (8-2) will play their next games at home as well, when they host the University of Manitoba Bisons (1-9) on the 13th and 14th.