VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Heat jumped out fast but eventually gave way to the home UBC Thunderbirds, giving the third ranked home squad their seventh win in a row with an 81-57 over the UBC Okanagan Heat on Friday at War Memorial Gym.
The T-Birds got off to a bit of a sluggish start against the struggling Heat, allowing them to shoot close to 40 per cent from the field in the first half. The visitors also held their own on the glass in the first half, out-rebounding the T-Birds and holding them to just three offensive boards.
“They played really hard. We were right there in the first quarter and there were a couple of little dips in the next few quarters,” explained Heat coach Heather Semeniuk. “We just need to keep that scoring up and we turned the ball over a few too many times. They switched their defense and we didn’t adjust well and we got into a bit of a bad groove. If those dips hadn’t been there, I think that would have kept us in the game a little closer.”
Despite the slow start, UBC still took a 12 point lead into halftime, and when the Heat’s second year post Krystal Schouten (Winnipeg, MB) got into foul trouble early in the third quarter, things started to open up for the ‘Birds. They went on to outscore the Heat 14-4 in the paint in that third quarter with Schouten missing most of the action, and the Heat were held to 29 per cent shooting in the second half.
“In the second half I think we got it going a bit offensively in transition which was nice, but on defence we didn’t bring the discipline we wanted for 40 minutes, which was a little disappointing,” said UBC head coach Deb Huband. “We had three offensive rebounds at half and ended up with 10, so we were able to focus on some things we wanted to work on after our slow start, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll come out with a more complete effort.”
Even with the loss the Heat’s bench boss Heather Semeniuk was still pleased with her team’s effort: “They don’t want to lose. I’m very proud of them, every kid that came off the bench went out and played hard.”
Point guard Ashley Briker (3rd year, West Kelowna, BC) led the Heat with 16 points and three assists. Schouten finished with seven points and six rebounds in 25 minutes of action.
“Ashley played well. She reads defense so well and finds when she can get in a little layup,” added Semeniuk.
Alex Vieweg led the T-Birds with 18 points on six of nine shooting, and she was a menace defensively with four blocks and five steals. The T-Birds, who lead the conference in shot blocking, had eight blocks as a team and were able to force a lot of quick releases out of opposing shooters, particularly in the second half.
Kris Young had 14 points, six assists and six rebounds for UBC, and Leigh Stansfield also chipped in 14 points and a pair of blocks. Zara Huntley had eight points and nine rebounds, including five on the offensive glass to help UBC turn things around on the boards.
UBC, now 11-2 on the year, is in great position to finish first in the Pacific Division after Friday’s win. If they can complete the sweep tomorrow against the Heat, they will have at least a two-game lead over second place Fraser Valley heading into their head-to-head matchup next weekend in Abbotsford.
For tomorrow Semeniuk says, “we need to make a little bit of an adjustment to our defensive blocking and make sure that we keep them in the centre floor. We need to stay focused and get the job done better. When you can’t score, you need to bear down and keep them from scoring as well.”
The Heat fall to 2-11 with the loss and will look to avoid the sweep when the teams play game two on Saturday at 5 p.m.
– with notes Lee Dorner (UBC Assistant Sports Information Director)
HEAT NOTES: Heat’s lack of size continues to be a problem as they were outscored 44-24 in the paint, and were outrebounded 42-34…