Cameron Doherty, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – The UVic Vikes women's basketball team outscored the MacEwan Griffins by 20 points over the final three quarters to take game one of their best-of-three playoff series 67-54 inside the CARSA Performance Gym on February 17.
"We missed a couple early shots but MacEwan got off to a great start," said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. "I was proud that our girls didn't become deflated by that, we've talked about wanting to be better defensively and MacEwan got off to a good start, but we settled in and were able to get some stops."
"That's important when your shots aren't falling."
It was the veterans on the Vikes that stepped their game up when the team needed it most. Fifth-years Nicole Karstein, Jenna Bugiardini and Jenna Krug all scored in the double-digits on the night.
Karstein was a force to be reckoned with in the paint all night long, scoring 20 points to lead all scorers while also grabbing six offensive rebounds.
"UVic is a tough team and they really took it to us inside as the game went on," said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams. "We had a tough time managing their bigs inside, they had 16 offensive rebounds and took advantage of that."
Bugiardini added 14 points and seven rebounds of her own, while Krug finished the game with 11 points and five boards.
Fifth-year guard Kendall Lydon was the only Griffin to hit double-digits, putting up 12 points in the loss. Brielle Wise was a perfect two-for-two from downtown en route to eight points in the game, while Kayla Ivicak and Kerilynn Maclennan both scored eight of their own.
After a nervy start to the game from both teams it was the Griffins that found their footing first, jumping out to a thirteen-point lead halfway through the opening frame. Wise and Kristen Monfort-Palomino were both clutch in the quarter, missing just one shot between the two of them.
"We showed spurts throughout the game where we played our kind of basketball," said Adams. "We showed that we can compete with this team and it's just a matter of doing it more consistently over forty minutes."
It was the Vikes defence that got them back into the contest. Forcing the Griffins into 25 turnovers in the game, UVic outscored MacEwan 28-4 in points off turnovers.
"We talk about Marissa (Dheensaw) being a key contributor in that regard," said Sinclair. "She did a really good job of using her length, getting deflections and that led to some steals."
With 3:30 left in the opening half, the Vikes took their first lead of the game and never looked back.
The third and fourth quarters saw the team from Victoria pound the ball into the paint, allowing Karstein to put up 13 points in the second half.
"I think we didn't do it enough, we got a little bit too cute with the ball sometimes," said Sinclair of moving the ball down low. "It's as simple as putting the ball inside, they are obviously going to make adjustments to that but until we see what the adjustment is, we have to keep going with it."
MacEwan showed signs of life in the second half, but were never able to seriously threaten the Vikes lead.
"Keeping a team in the low-60's is definitely a goal," said Adams. "There was a lot of trading hoops it felt like, we could never break that six-point barrier and in the end they ran away with it."
With game one in the books these two teams will do battle again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. inside CARSA.
For MacEwan the focus will be on finding a way to control the Vikes paint presence as they try to force a game three. The Vikes meanwhile, will be looking for more of the same as they try to record the sweep and book themselves a spot in the second round of the Canada West playoffs.
"We have a lot of experienced players who have been in these series before and we know how quickly things change and momentum shifts," said Sinclair. "We have to take it one quarter at a time and go from there to hopefully close it out tomorrow night."
That game can be watched live on canadawest.tv
UVIC: 11-24-21-11: 67
GMU: 18-11-17-8: 54
UVIC: Nicole Karstein (20), Jenna Bugiardini (14), Jenna Krug (11)
GMU: Kendall Lyndon (12), Kayla Ivicak (8), Brielle Wise (8)