PREVIEW: Vikes head to Manitoba for battle between two of the hottest teams in Canada West
It will be a clash between two teams that have surged their way up the Canada West standings in recent weeks when the UVic Vikes women's basketball team, winners of four straight games, travel to Winnipeg to take on a Manitoba Bisons squad that has won six of their last seven contests on Jan. 13 and 14.
The games are set for Saturday and Sunday, a rare occasion for the Vikes, and will take place at 10 and 11 a.m. PT respectively.
For the second week in a row, the Vikes will be playing against a team that they are directly battling with for playoff positioning. The 8-4 Vikes are currently seventh in the conference and hold two games in hand over the eight-place Bisons, who have a record of 8-6.
It was the Vikes who came out on top the last time these teams met, back in the 2015-16 season. Amira Giannattasio scored 27 points in the second game as Victoria swept the Bisons inside the CARSA Performance Gym by scores of 73-64 and 86-75.
Last Time Out
Both of these teams got the second half of their Canada West schedule off to great starts by sweeping their opponents last weekend.
The Vikes were dominant on their home court, recording victories of 83-65 and 83-64 over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack. Along with veterans Giannattasio and Kristy Gallagher having their usual strong performances, first year Vikes Haily Weaver and Ashlyn Day stepped up the plate with outings of 15 and 16 points respectively.
The Bisons recorded back-to-back upsets over the Lethbridge Pronghorns last weekend, handing the Pronghorns just their third and fourth losses of the season. Manitoba's offence exploded in wins of 87-73 and 82-59.
By the Numbers
17.6: The number of points fourth-year guard Kristy Gallagher is scoring per game, good enough for fourth in the conference.
41: Nicole Konieczny had an amazing outing last weekend for the Bisons, scoring exactly half of her team's points in an 82-59 win over Lethbridge.
12: The Vikes have dominated the Bisons of late, winning the last 12 games between the two teams dating back to the 2006-07 season.
Dani Sinclair, Vikes head coach
"Going into their gym will be a good test for us. They pose a problem with their overall size, they are long and athletic at a lot of positions. They can really get out in passing lanes defensively so we will have to take care of the ball and also rebound well."
On Konieczny's 41 point performance
"They have a few girls who are capable of that, she obviously had the hot hand but it was her making plays and also girls making plays for her, they shared the ball really well. We are hoping that she cools off a bit obviously and that no one else heats up like that."
On the early start times of the games
"We played three early games over the break in Toronto and the first game was a struggle. Having flown a long distance and played three early games recently, that will be at the front of our mind but it's different for both teams, it's not something that they do often either."
Manitoba Bisons (8-6)
Canada West Standings: 8th
RPI: .5013, 9th
Last Week: 2-0
Streak: W 3
Last Canada West Title: N/A
Last U SPORTS Title: 1996-97