Must-win games for Vikes in Kelowna in tight race for playoffs

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Andy Watson

The University of Victoria women’s basketball team is in desperate times.

LIVE VIDEO AND STATS available at http://canadawest.tv.

With a record of 6-8 entering their final four games of the Canada West season, UVic sits in fourth spot, one game up on fifth-place Thompson Rivers (5-9) and two games behind third-place Trinity Western (8-7) in the race for the final playoff spot in the division.

The top three teams in the division will qualify for the Canada West quarter-finals to be played at the end of the month. In all likelihood, a wildcard berth to be determined between the fourth-place Pacific Division and fifth-place Prairie Division teams will go the Prairie Division this year based on a number of criteria (overall head-to-head record between divisions, overall winning percentage, and head-to-head record of teams being evaluated).

For head coach Rich Chambers and his squad, balance on offence and disciplined play will be crucial this weekend as the Vikes face the UBC Okanagan Heat in Kelowna.

Currently on a seven-game losing streak, UBC Okanagan is coming off four straight road losses – one each against Prairie Division powers Saskatchewan and Alberta and a pair against first-place UBC. They also dropped a pair of games to Trinity Western in Kelowna in mid-January.

However, the Heat have been a tough test at home, with a 2-4 record in the Kelowna with wins over Manitoba and Brandon. In their first year in the CIS, UBC Okanagan has constantly shown improvement through the season and close out with four winnable games with the Vikes this weekend and a home-and-home series with Thompson Rivers Feb. 11 and 12.

The Heat have struggled on the defensive end this season, surrendering a division-high 1054 points.

Roslyn Humber leads UBC Okanagan in scoring, averaging 12.8 points per game. Madison Kaneda is the team’s top rebounder, pulling down 4.9 boards per game and 11.1 points per contest. Kiersten Shulhan, a third-year post and product of Glenlyon Norfolk School, provides Island flavour to the roster, along with freshman guard Whitney Hamilton, a Victoria, B.C., a product from Lambrick Park Secondary. Hamilton is the team’s most-accurate three-point shooter, going seven-for-14 from downtown.

The Vikes continue to be led by Debbie Yeboah of Winnipeg. In her fourth season with the team, the combo guard averages 14.9 points per game. Sarah Semeniuk, a recent winner of the Capital One Academic All-American honour, is the top rebounder pulling down 7.4 rebounds per contest for UVic.

Jessica Renfrew of Victoria (11.4 PPG), Chelsea McMullen of Prince George, B.C. (11.2 PPG) and Cassandra Goodis of Penticton, B.C. (10.9 PPG) are other double-digit scorers this season for the Vikes.

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