Len Catling/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – In the second night of the best-of-three match-up between the UBC Thunderbirds and UNBC Timberwolves, the big guns for UBC fired early and often. The 'Birds swept aside the Wolves in two games, finished with a 76-55 victory Saturday afternoon at UBC's War Memorial Gym to secure a berth in the Canada West quarterfinals.
Maddison Penn scored 18 points, Kara Spotton had 14 points and six rebounds, while reserve Krysten Lindquist was a defensive dynamo off the T-Birds bench with 13 points and four steals.
UNBC was led by Vancouver's Preety Nijjar with 11 points, while Vasiliki Louka put down a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds despite just making just one field goal on 11 attempts.
"We have to credit our defence for creating offence for us today," said UBC head coach Deb Huband. "We are working on getting consecutive stops on defence and using that to build momentum."
Penn and Spotton scored early and often for the 'Birds in the opening quarter as the two combined for 18 points.
The first quarter's signature play was Jessica Hanson pressuring UNBC point guard Hanna Pudlas up court and knocking the ball from her possession. Hanson dove to the floor, gathered the ball and dished it to a streaking Penn, who finished the uncontested lay-up.
UNBC's Kylie Pozniak kept things reasonably close with a perfect shooting quarter, putting five points on the board for the Timberwolves. After the opening frame, the Thunderbirds had a 23-13 lead.
The UBC defence was the story in the first half as the 'Birds generated 13 steals to UNBC's four. Louka couldn't find her shooting touch, but cleaned up the glass with nine rebounds and the score was 39-29 for UBC at the half.
UNBC came out hard after the intermission and pulled to within seven, as Pudlas and Louka made multiple trips to the foul line and hit their free throws. But a hoop and harm drive by Lindquist grabbed the momentum back for UBC and the 'Birds never looked back.
UBC outscored the Timberwolves 20-14 in the final quarter for the 76-55 victory.
The Thunderbirds will now travel to Edmonton to take on the Alberta Pandas in a best-of-three Canada West quarter-final match-up beginning February 24.
"We're excited. It was a good weekend for us with lots of contributions from many places," added Huband. "I think we're playing our best basketball right now which is what you want to do in the playoffs."
The loss ended a historic season for the UNBC Timberwolves, which saw them make the Canada West women's basketball playoffs for the first time in school history.
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds