It wasn’t always pretty, but the UVic Vikes women’s basketball team did just enough to defeat the Manitoba Bisons by a score of 71-68 in Winnipeg, MB on Jan. 13.
“We got off to a great start and then we allowed them to play to their strengths part-way through the second quarter and for most of the third,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “We let them get offensive rebounds, gave them energy and then I thought we started to play scared.”
Leading by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, the Vikes then went ice cold from the floor right as the Bisons caught fire. Manitoba ended the third frame on a 21-2 run to storm back on their home court and turn what looked like a potential blowout into a nail-biting finish.
The win was the fifth in a row for a Vikes team that is now 9-4 on the season and moves them into sole possession of sixth-place in the Canada West conference. The loss snapped the Bisons five-game winning streak and drops them to a record of 8-7.
“We did a much better job in the fourth quarter of just playing basketball,” said Sinclair. “At that point it became a back and forth affair and it could have been anybody’s game.”
Amira Giannattasio scored a team-high 25 points, 15 of which came in a first quarter where the fourth-year guard was seven-for-eight from the field. Kristy Gallagher added 13 points for the Vikes, while rookie Ashlyn Day chipped in with 11 points and went two-for-three from beyond the arc.
“Lots of girls were contributing and although the stat sheet might not fully show it, Aleah Ashleeplayed a huge role for us from start to finish, she rebounded the ball well and was really active, did a great job defensively.”
The Vikes were absolutely dominant in the first quarter.
Giannattasio ended the frame with just over half of the Vikes 29 points as the team shot 57.1 per cent from the floor to start the game to enter the second quarter with a 16 point lead.
After the teams traded baskets in the second quarter, the Vikes appeared to be well on their way to victory with an 11-point lead at the half. The Vikes then scored the first seven points of the second half to stretch that lead to as many as 18 points before the Bisons responded with a run of their own.
21-straight points from Manitoba sent the teams into the fourth quarter with the Vikes trailing for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
Gallagher and Day led the way for the Vikes in the final frame, as the team was able to bounce back from the shock of seeing their lead disappear to work their way into the game and hang with the Bisons down the stretch. A Gallagher jumper with just under a minute left to play were the final two points in the game as the Vikes were able to pull out the victory thanks to some gritty defence.
“We could have easily given in and let the emotion get to us, but we got some important rebounds and stops,” said Sinclair. “We didn’t shoot the ball that well in the final quarter but when your defence is strong and you’re rebounding the ball you can recover from that.”
These two teams are back in action tomorrow afternoon with tip-off scheduled for 11 a.m. in Winnipeg. That game can be watched live on canadawest.tv
“We have to reset and try to do better tomorrow,” said Sinclair. “It will be interesting, both teams will make adjustments and it will be two young, evenly matched teams competing hard. I hope that our depth will continue to show because we seem to have different people step up every night.”
VIC: 29-17-9-16: 71
MAN: 13-22-21-12: 68