Andy Watson / Photos by Erich Eichhorn (www.allsportmedia.ca)
VICTORIA, B.C. – The No. 7 nationally ranked Alberta Pandas got a scare but held off a gritty University of Victoria Vikes squad, forcing Victoria’s forwards into foul trouble to win 88-84 in front of over 500 fans at Ken & Kathy Shields Court at McKinnon Gymnasium on Saturday Jan. 6.
With the loss, UVic drops to 5-5 after hosting arguably their toughest weekend double-header of the season, while Alberta snaps a three-game losing streak to improve to 7-3.
Debbie Yeboah of Winnipeg was phenomenal in the loss, netting 32 points and added seven rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals, all while committing just one turnover. She was also strong defensively for the Vikes. Nicole Clarke of Calgary paced the Pandas with a team-high 20 points while Anneka Bakker of Ottawa added 19.
Alberta was 24 for 26 from the free-throw line and outscored UVic 28-18 off the bench. However, UVic’s 29-8 edge on points off turnovers allowed them to stay close and be up several teams in a game featuring 10 lead changes.
Jessica Renfrew takes it to the rack. She would cap a night with a 17 point performance.
Vikes Cassandra Goodis spots the jumper for 2 of her 9 points. She also finished the game with 6 steals and 4 assists against the Alberta Pandas.
The Pandas took an early 5-0 lead just over a minute in forcing a Vikes timeout to settle things down. Alberta continued to lead despite some great individual work by Yeboah and carried a 25-16 lead after the opening quarter.
In the second frame, UVic played a much more disciplined defence and cut the lead to 27-23. Improved team offence and continued strong play from Yeboah, Cassandra Goodis of Penticton, B.C., and Jessica Renfrew of Victoria spurred an 11-0 run to give UVIc a 30-27 lead with four minutes left in the half. The run continued at 15-2, closing out with a 23-8 stretch to close out the second quarter. Yeboah had 14 points on 7 for 9 shooting.
However, just 90 seconds into the third quarter, Vikes fourth-year forward Chelsea McMullen of Prince George, B.C., picked up her fourth personal foul very quickly, forcing her to the bench and allowing the Pandas to go to work inside the paint. Alberta quickly tied it at 45 aided by some big stops at the defensive end.
But the resilient Vikes took the lead back again, going up by seven before then the Pandas went on another run, eventually forcing Semeniuk to pick up her fourth personal foul.
Alberta briefly regained the lead, before Yeboah put up another resilient run for the host Vikes, checking back into the game and draining a trey to make it 59-58 for UVic. The Pandas, paced by nine points in 10 minutes from Clarke, led 61-59 after three quarters.
In the fourth, the Vikes could not hold off the Pandas which came back several times to secure the victory.
Vikes Yeboah draws the foul on a drive to the hoop. Yeboah shot 6-6 from the line against the Pandas of Alberta
Vikes Chelsea McMullen drives to the net
Some strong play from Goodis helped UVic to move ahead 70-69, but then more foul trouble plagued the Vikes as McMullen fouled out with four minutes left, with the score tied at 72.
UVic led two more times but in the final two minutes, Alberta’s depth allowed them to pull ahead for good.
The nail in the coffin came from Katie Arbuthot of Calgary as the fourth-year guard drained a three-pointer – just her third of the season – to give the Pandas an 83-80 lead. She finished with 12 points.
UVic hosts the Fraser Valley Cascades on Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. and Jan. 14 at 5 p.m. at Ken & Kathy Shields Court at McKinnon Gymnasium in two of their final three regular season home games before a five-game road trip.