On the back of solid defence and a monstrous performance from fourth year Nicole Karstein, the University of Victoria Vikes secured their place in the Canada West Quarter-Finals with a 62-44 victory over the Trinity Western Spartans in Game 3 of the Canada West Play-In Series at the CARSA Performance Gym on Feb. 28. The Vikes win the best-of-three series 2-1 and will move on to the second round to face the MacEwan Griffins in Edmonton, Alta. on Mar. 4-6.
With reduced minutes from fourth year Jenna Bugiardini and second year Amira Giannattasio, Karstein led all scoring and rebounding on the day with a double-double of 20 points and an impressive 16 rebounds in a full 40 minutes on the court for the Vikes. Despite only playing eight minutes in the first half, Bugiardini added a game total of 17 points and five rebounds while second year Kristy Gallagher had another strong performance with 10 points and six rebounds.
Trinity Western’s Jessie Brown wasn’t as clinical as she had been in the previous two games from beyond the arc but still led the Spartans in points with 15 points, including going 3-for-10 from distance. Kayla Gordon posted a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds while Tessa Ratzlaff was one rebound off the double-double mark with 10 points and 9 rebounds.
After another strong first quarter, the Vikes fell off again in the second quarter with only six points to show in the frame. But the Vikes’ defence held strong, limiting the Spartans to 12 points in the second frame and only 18 points and a 5-for-30 (16.7 per cent) field-goal percentage in the second half. Fourth-year Vike Jenna Krug was the definitive unsung hero for the Vikes this series by logging 118 minutes of game time over the weekend’s three games.
“The second quarter hadn’t been good to us all series but today we were a lot better defensively,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “We were able to hold them off offensively in the second when our own offence was struggling and that was especially important today. We had some girls come off the bench and play an important role for us when some other players got into foul trouble.”
The elimination element to this afternoon’s game was felt early with both teams jumping out of the gate with a high intensity. Brown hit her first three of the game to tie the score early 10-10 before the Vikes utilized the quick transition to go on an eight-point run to lead 18-10. Karstein was leading the Vikes in and around the rim with 10 points and five rebounds while Ratzlaff had six points for the visitors as the Vikes lead after one 24-14.
The Vikes’ second quarter woes from the previous two games seemed to return again in Game 3 when the Vikes failed to score for 7:39 after Brittani Yee hit a jumper to make it 28-14 for the Vikes. Two consecutive threes from Brown and an eight-point run from the Spartans during that span helped close the gap to four before Karstein added two of her 12 first half points to end the Vikes’ points drought. The Vikes took a 30-26 advantage into halftime.
Both teams combined in the second quarter to put together one of the lowest scoring quarters of the series at 12-6 in favour of the Spartans. Brown was once again clinical from beyond the arc at 3-for-6 in the first half for Trinity Westen while Karstein was playing her part for the Vikes with 12 points and nine rebounds. Bugiardini was left on the bench for most of the second quarter and the first half, only playing a total of eight minutes through two frames.
The third quarter began with limited offence from both teams much like the second, but Bugiardini got the Vikes going with her first basket of the third after her limited minutes in the first half. Fouls began to catch up with the Vikes after Giannattasio took her fourth and checked out in favour of Yee. The Vikes began to gather momentum with a nine-point run to take their largest lead of nine at 41-32. Time would run out in the third with the Vikes up 43-37.
Ratzlaff opened the final frame for the Spartans with two key offensive rebounds off missed shots before burying a long two to keep Trinity Western behind by only four. Giannattasio marked her return to the game with the first three-pointer of the game before taking her fifth and final foul and being forced to the bench with the Vikes ahead 50-42 with 4:36 remaining. The Vikes would control with a 10-point run to end the game and book their ticket to the Canada West Quarter-Finals against the MacEwan Griffins with a final score of 62-44.
“I said earlier today that there probably isn’t anymore more happy than MacEwan that this series is going to a third game,” joked Sinclair. “We’re both very different teams from when we saw each other earlier in the season. We’ll now focus on taking things one step at a time and resting up after a long, hard series.”
1 2 3 4 F
UVIC: 24 6 13 19 62
TWU: 14 12 11 7 44