VICTORIA – Chelsea McMullen scored all of her team-high 18 points in the second half, and freshman guard Jenny Lewis was clutch in the fourth quarter with 12 points, as the UVic Vikes women’s basketball team improved to 4-2 with a 96-88 win over Thompson Rivers in a foul-filled feast at Ken and Kathy Shields Court at McKinnon Gymnasium on Saturday night.
UVic, in a tie for first place in the West division of the Canada West conference, will close out the 2011 portion of the season next weekend on Nov. 25 at Calgary and on Nov. 26 at Lethbridge (FULL SCHEDULE).
Diane Schuetze of Vernon, B.C., was strong once again for the WolfPack with 26 points and seven rebounds – 14 of her points came on 17 free-throw attempts. Jen Ju of Vancouver added 19 points in the loss. Thompson Rivers falls to 2-4.
McMullen of Prince George, B.C., was dynamite after a half-time chat with the coaching staff. She was scoreless in just six minutes in the opening half and exploded for 13 points in the third quarter to keep her team in a see-saw game, despite heavy foul trouble and a short bench. In all 69 fouls were called between the two squads.
“I’m unbelievably proud of everyone for standing up with the foul trouble we had tonight,” said Vikes head coach Rich Chambers. “Chelsea didn’t play much in the first half and we got her refocussed and she was terrific for us in the second. Jenny Lewis didn’t play much last night, she was disappointed, and then she came in and played big minutes. I’m very pleased.”
In the opening quarter, the WolfPack built an 11-5 lead before the Vikes started pouring in three-pointers. A 12-0 run and then two timely threes from Lewis of Fall River, N.S., and Jessica Renfrew of Victoria allowed the Vikes to close out the first quarter up 25-19. Renfrew finished with 10 points before getting into foul trouble along with teammate Debbie Yeboah of Winnipeg.
Schuetze took over in the second quarter, scoring 10 points in the frame to help the WolfPack to crawl back within two points at the half, trailing 43-41.
In the third, the teams exchanged the lead several times with both teams getting into foul trouble. Kailey Colonna of Invermere, B.C., fouled out in the third quarter for the WolfPack, with three teammates – Ju, Jorrri Duxbury of Salmon Arm, B.C., and Michelle Domon of Port Moody, B.C. – joining her on the bench in the fourth quarter. The Vikes lost Renfrew, Yeboah, Sarah Semeniuk of Fruitvale, B.C., and guard Cassandra Goodis of Penticton, B.C., to fouls in the fourth.
It forced both coaches to go deep to their bench. For Chambers and the Vikes, the challenge was even bigger. Allison Mulock of North Vancouver was sidelined early in the third quarter – despite putting up eight points in five minutes of play – and the host Vikes were down to their last player of the bench in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Everyone scored at one point in the game, a sign of the heart and determination on the team.
“We were horrible defensively tonight, but to shoot the ball 47% from three-point range this weekend including going 11 for 23 tonight is a good sign,” Chambers said. “And we outrebounded the Canada West’s second best rebounding team both nights. We got contributions from everyone.”
Chambers said Lewis – who was named Applebee’s Vikes player of the game and worked out in one-on-one sessions with him in the morning and mid-afternoon – stepped up tremendously in the game.
“I’m really pleased with how we responded, we never quit,” Chambers said. “They’re a unique group of girls. It might not be pretty, but we got the job done – and against a team that beat us twice last year.”