It took fourth-year guard Kristy Gallagher two tries to pull it off, but in the end, one of the veteran leaders on the UVic Vikes women’s basketball team buried a shot to give them a 76-74 victory over the visiting UBC Thunderbirds inside the CARSA Performance Gym on Feb. 1.
With just 11 seconds left to play, Gallagher scored the deciding points in what was a wild back-and-forth game by collecting a rebound off of her own miss and calmly sending the Vikes to their 11th-straight victory.
“It seems to always go like this when we face UBC, last time we played it went into overtime and no lead is ever safe either way,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair on the rivalry between the two teams.
UBC had a chance to tie the game late, but the Vikes defence was able to clamp down and deny Jessica Hanson’s attempt at sending the teams into yet another overtime clash.
The largest advantage for either team on the night was just ten points, as the teams jockeyed back-and-forth throughout the game, with the lead swapping hands eight different times.
Gallagher scored a game-high 25 points on the night, 20 of which came in the second half, and also added ten rebounds for the double-double. Amira Giannattasio put up 21 points and three assists in the game, while Calli McMillan rounded out the top-scorers for the home team with 11 points and two steals. Amy Sprangers, who recorded three offensive rebounds in her 17 minutes on the court, was a player Sinclair highlighted after the game as playing a key role in the victory.
“Amy Sprangers is somebody who played 11 minutes last weekend, and tonight she came in and gave us multiple second chances, everybody was stepping up and filling roles for a great team effort.”
Maddison Penn led the way for the Thunderbirds, scoring 23 points and adding 11 rebounds. Keylyn Filewich, Ali Norris and Hanson also all hit double-digits in the game as the visitors hit 46 per cent of their shots on the night, almost ten per cent better than the Vikes 37.
The game was an extremely important one, as teams across the Canada West conference continue to battle for playoff positioning in the final weekend of the regular season.
Victory for Victoria means that they improve their record to 15-4 and are currently in sole possession of third-place in the conference standings. The loss snapped UBC’s six-game winning streak and they now sit in a three-way tie for seventh.
It was a testy start to the game with both teams struggling to solve the others defence. The Thunderbirds were able to find their groove first however, and scored 10 points in a three-minute span in the middle of the quarter to open up a lead. The Vikes hit just 4 of their first 14 shots en route to shooting 28 per cent in the quarter, but were five-of-six from the free-throw line to trail by just four points after the opening frame.
Shots started to drop for both teams in the second quarter. After an 11-5 Vikes run to start the frame, Gallagher hit a lay-up with 6:15 left in the half to give her team their first lead of the game, 24-23. UBC found a response however, and went on a run of their own. Buoyed by 55 per cent shooting in the frame, the visitors took a 42-35 lead into the halftime break. That lead could have been larger if it weren’t for a play by McMillan that turned the tide of the game according to Sinclair.
“We are at our best when we are playing with energy, we got down by ten at one point right before the half and Calli picked up a steal, then finished a three-point play,” said Sinclair. “There was a celebration there where you could see what our team was about for the first time all night. We have to live and die being that team and tonight that energy helped us
Gallagher and Penn went toe-to-toe in the third quarter, putting up 13 and nine points respectively. It was the Thunderbirds who were in charge of the game at that point, leading for the entire quarter until McMillan showed her flair for the dramatic yet again. The second-year guard nailed a jump-shot at the buzzer to send the teams into the fourth quarter with the Vikes leading by a score of 59-57.
“Our girls play so hard for each other and they demonstrated that in the second half, it’s not about whether shots are going in, but whether you are doing all of the little things that lead to shots going in,” said Sinclair.
The Vikes held onto that lead for the first seven minutes of the final frame but the advantage was never larger than eight points, as the Thunderbirds hung tough on the road. Penn capped off a late UBC push by sinking a free-throw to give the T-Birds back to lead, 74-73, with just over a minute left to play. After both teams came up with key stops down the stretch, Gallagher was eventually able to score the bucket that had fans inside the CARSA Peformance Gym jumping out of their seats.
The second half of the rivalry showdown will take place tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 2 at the War Memorial Gym in Vancouver, B.C. The final regular season game of for both teams is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and can be watched live on CanadaWest.tv
“They are really tough and are going to be looking for redemption tomorrow night, so we just have to look past this and get ready for tomorrow,” said Sinclair.
VIC: 13-22-24-17: 76
UBC: 17-25-15-17: 74