Cameron Doherty, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – A big second half led the UVic Vikes women's basketball team to a 68-60 victory over the visiting MacEwan Griffins inside the CARSA Performance Gym on February 18.
With the win the Vikes were able to pick up the sweep, sending them onto the quarter-finals of the Canada West playoffs where they will face the Winnipeg Wesmen in a best-of-three series in Manitoba.
It wasn't easy for the Vikes, a tenacious Griffins team led by five at the half, refusing to be intimidated by an energetic crowd inside CARSA.
"What a tough team and a tough performance from MacEwan, they gave us a lot of fits throughout the game," said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. "We didn't deal with their pressure and their physicality very well in the first half but we pulled through and were able to make some plays."
Fifth-year Vike, Jenna Krug led all scorers with 22 points in the game. Scoring 19 points in the second half, Krug attacked the net with reckless abandon, stepping up when her team needed it most.
"Jenna absolutely carried our team tonight, she literally put the team on her shoulders at times," said Sinclair. "She was a big reason why we were able to pull it through."
Nicole Karstein added 14 points and seven rebounds for another strong game in the paint, while Jenna Bugiardini recorded 12 points and seven rebounds in limited time on the court due to foul trouble.
Kendall Lydon led the Griffins in scoring in what will be her final game in a MacEwan uniform, recording 16 points while playing the entire 40 minutes.
"She is one of the fiercest competitors that I have ever coached," said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams. "What we are going to miss most is her leadership and presence off the court, she is a tremendous player and person."
Both Kayla Ivicak and Paige Knull added 15 points for the Griffins, with Ivicak going seven-for-ten from the floor.
Two things changed after the half according to Sinclair. The Vikes defence began to step up their pressure and Krug found another level.
"We started to rebound the ball a little better, we were able to get some key stops but the big difference was Jenna Krug," said Sinclair. "She made some big baskets and could have been on the line for half the night based on her tough attacks to the rim."
The teams were still separated by just two points after the third quarter, but the Vikes went on an 11-3 run at the start of the fourth to capture a lead that they would never surrender.
For the Griffins the season comes to an end with the loss, as the team from Edmonton was just unable to break down the Vikes defence in the fourth.
"We came in and gave them all they could handle, it was a tight competitive game right from the start but we just kind of ran out of gas at the end and they hit some big shots down the stretch," said Adams. "I'm really proud of the effort our girls put forward."
"When your season ends this way it's always tough, but at least it's a good feeling knowing that you gave it all you had."
The Vikes meanwhile will have a chance for revenge when they head out on the road to take on the No. 3 seeded Wesmen, a team that swept the Vikes in Victoria just one week ago.
"Excited to move on and we'll celebrate that tonight but it's a pretty quick turnaround," said Sinclair. "We got a chance to see Winnipeg just last week so I think our girls will be pretty hungry."
"The nice thing this weekend is we got some contributions from people off the bench and hopefully we can move forward with that momentum."
That series will take place on February 23 and 24, with a possible game three scheduled for the 25.
All playoff games can be watched live on canadawest.tv
UVIC: 18-16-17-19: 68
GMU: 18-19-10-13: 60
UVIC: Jenna Krug (20), Nicole Karstein (14), Jenna Bugiardini (12)
GMU: Kendall Lyndon (16), Kayla Ivicak (15), Paige Knull (15)