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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications, Photos by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)

November 2, 2012, VICTORIA, B.C. – The Canada West season got underway for the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team Friday night with a 87-69 win over the UBC Okanagan Heat at the McKinnon Gymnasium.

The victory continues a six-game pre-season win streak for the Vikes under first-year associate coach Dani Sinclair.

Following some big pre-season wins over Eastern CIS teams Guelph, Toronto and Western, the Vikes women’s basketball team stepped into their opening Canada West season with a bit more confidence than last year’s squad that went 8-10. The ramped up pre-season seemed to make the difference as fifth-year guard Debbie Yeboah(Winnipeg, MB) took her cue and paved the way with an impressive 27 points in tonight’s match up against UBC Okanagan. Vikes’ Jessica Renfrew (Victoria, BC) and Chelsea McMullen (Prince George, B.C.) further impressed in double digits hitting 17 and 13 points, respectively.

Vikes 5th year forward Chelsea McMullen finds a free path to the hoop during their season opener against the Okanagan Heat – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

For the Heat, fifth-year Roslyn Huber put the team on her back to dominate with 21 points and 11 rebounds in the game. Second-years Emily Kanester and Sarah Allisonalso made a good show chipping in for 10 and 14 points, respectively. Both Kanester and Allison were perfect from the line.

“Having four girls in double digits tonight has become a trend for us,” said Vikes associate coach Sinclair. “It’s why we have been doing so well and it showed tonight. We have a number of offensive threats and our line up is much deeper this year.”

There was no free ride to the net here for Vikes Cassandra Goodis against a physical Okanagan Heat defense – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

The Vikes opened play with three separate scorers in Cassandra Goodis (Penticton, BC), Yeboah and McMullen putting the Vikes up 6-0 from the get-go in the first quarter. The Vikes ran away with the game gaining a 16-6 lead before Heat’s fifth-year Huber lead the catch up to get the Heat within two points of the home side. With less than a minute to go in the quarter, Renfrew was able to drain her second trey while some extra curriculars under the hoop sent the Vikes to the line to gain a few extra points to enter the first break with a 28-20 lead.

#7 Claremont Alumni Shaylyn Crisp draws the attention of two Heat players while driving to the hoop for two points – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

In the second quarter, the Vikes ran into slight foul trouble and struggled to finish in the paint but were luckily neutralized by a high turnover count from UBC Okanagan. Vikes second-year Shaylyn Crisp (Victoria, B.C.) nailed two of her three attempts from the perimeter to help the Vikes finally find their groove. The home side took as much as a 10 point lead in the second quarter to enter the break with a 49-35 advantage.

Following the break, UBC Okanagan’s Huber was outstanding trying to play catch up but was unable to match UVic’s Yeboah-Renfrew combo, who capitalized both in the paint and from the line to help send the Vikes up with a 59-37 edge in the opening minutes of the second half.

Debbie Yeboah would be the spark plug to drive the Vikes offense in the second half , pushing the ball up court and to the net often – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

Both teams put up several late fouls to send each other into bonus and back and forth from the line. The Vikes capitalized on nine of 13 attempts from the line in the third quarter, while the Heat earned five of their eight attempts from free throws. The Heat trailed 72-56 entering into the final quarter.

The Vikes opened the game up in the final period. Yeboah had a 6-0 streak after she went unanswered on a jumper, free throw and three-pointer with four minutes left on the clock. UBC Okanagan suffered a loss late in the game when Huber collided under the hoop with Vike Jenna Bugiardini (Hamilton, ON) and was unable to return to the game.

Second year guard Shaylyn Crisp brings the ball upcourt for the Vikes, giving relief for Yeboah and Goodis Friday night in Canada West Basketball action – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

The Vikes closed out the game with a 87-69 victory over the UBC Okanagan Heat, who are only in their second year of Canada West play.

“I just have a good feeling about our team this year,” said Yeboah after her 27-point game. “It’s really nice to have so much support coming off the bench and knowing that when you sub off, your team mates are going back in and are going to carry the momentum.”

With the victory, the Vikes make their 2012 Canada West debut with a 1-0-0 record, while the Heat will move to 0-1-0. Both teams will return to McKinnon Gymnasium tomorrow, Nov. 3, at 5:00 p.m. for their second game of the season. That game will be streamed live at http://uvic.canadawest.tv