Cameron Doherty, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The University of Winnipeg Wesmen women's basketball team used a huge third quarter to defeat the UVic Vikes inside the CARSA Performance Gym on February 11.
"Our defensive intensity sort of lagged in the second half," said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. "We were fatigued for sure but so were they, it was a couple of runs that made the difference."
Outscoring the Vikes 27-14 in the third, the Wesmen went on a 19-4 run to start the frame, turning a 10-point deficit into a lead they never surrendered for the rest of contest.
"It was another battle," said Wesmen head coach Tanya McKay. "I thought both teams played tough, they came out firing right away and it was hard to break momentum because they were hitting everything."
"Fortunately for us in the second half we started on a real high, took it at them and hit some key shots."
Faith Hezekiah scored 29 points in the game, 13 of which came in that all-important third quarter.
"She's a special kid, she's learned to work hard," said McKay of Hezekiah. "She's learning about herself and how good she is, she's not even near her full potential yet."
The second-year forward was lethal down low for the Wesmen, using a deft touch around the rim to go 13-for-17 from the floor.
"Beautiful hands, she loves to play and when you watch her play it's like listening to music," said McKay.
Three Vikes scored 14 points in the game, Jenna Bugiardini, Amira Giannattasio and Kristy Gallagher combined to provide much of the scoring threat for the home team.
Jenna Krug and Nicole Karstein also played key roles in the game. Krug had eight points and four assists while playing all forty minutes in the game while Karstein picked up 10 points and nine rebounds.
Antoinette Miller, the leading scorer in the conference, had 20 points on the night for the Wesmen while Megan Noonan chipped in with 12 points and five assists.
Up by ten points at the half, this game is one that came with a lot of lessons for the Vikes, as the team continues to prepare to host the U SPORTS Final Eight from March 9-12.
"We showed a lot of resiliency coming back a couple of times, but we got it to five and then we would give up an offensive rebound," said Sinclair. "There is no question that our belief is there, we just have to play a more tight game defensively."
The game was also Senior Night for the Vikes, as they honoured their three graduating players:Bugiardini, Karstein and Krug after the game.
"I love them to death," said Sinclair of her three seniors. "They are self-accountable, great character people, good role models, they do so much work in our program but also in the community. The world is in good hands with people like that graduating from university."
"It's really special and I'm so proud to see how they've grown as people."
With the victory, Winnipeg finish the regular season with a record of 18-2 and are guaranteed a bye through the first round of the Canada West playoffs.
The Vikes meanwhile, finish at 12-8 and in sixth place in the conference. They will need to wait for the conclusion of Canada West play to determine their opponent but the Vikes will be hosting whoever that opponent is, in a best-of-three series from Febraury 17-19 inside the CARSA Performance Gym.
UVIC: 20-21-14-14: 69
WPG: 12-23-27-18: 80
UVIC: Kristy Gallagher (14), Jenna Bugiardini (14), Amira Giannattasio (14)
WPG: Faith Hezekiah (29), Antoinette Miller (20), Megan Noonan (12)