Vikes handed second loss in Holiday Hoops exhibition series

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By Natalie Wise, Vikes Communications

December 30, 2012, VICTORIA, B.C., (ISN) – Despite an unbelievable 31 points from third-year Vike Jessica Renfrew (Victoria, BC), the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team concluded their two-game exhibition series at the fourth annual Holiday Hoops tournament in La Mirada, Calif.

A courageous battle resulted in a 72-62 loss to Vanguard University, a strong NAIA Division I and No. 3-ranked side with a perfect season record of 7-0.

In yesterday’s match-up against the host team the Biola University Eagles, the Vikes were downed 63-43. The 20-point spread opened up with a big second half from the Eagles after a game that was neck-and-neck going into the final stretch. Heading into today’s game against the tournament’s top contender, the Vanguard University Lions, the Vikes were looking to redeem themselves but were challenged by the NAIA Division I side and handed a 72-62 loss.

Leading scorer for the Vikes was third-year Renfrew as she tallied an incredible 31 points going 11 for 18 on field goal attempts, sinking four treys and making good on five out of five free throws. Renfrew also led the team in defensive rebounds, nabbing six.

Playing a game-high 34 minutes and the only other Vike to hit double digits as she notched 13 points was rookie Jenna Bugiardini (Hamilton, ON). Fellow first year Tessla Rennie (Red Lodge, MT) was at the top of the charts in rebounding with five offensive rebounds and three defensive.

Vanguard was on the board a mere ten seconds into the first half. The Lions set the tone with a huge three-pointer sunk by senior Chelsea Alfafara and half a minute later were up by five with a layup by Nicole Ballestero. A three-pointer by Vikes rookie Bugiardini momentarily kick-started the UVic women but with stingy defending and spot-on shooting in the paint, Vanguard put the Vikes behind by 16 only four minutes into the game.

Going into the halftime break with a score of 41-31 in favour of the Lions, the Vikes had a field goal shooting percentage of 36.7 in comparison to the leading Vanguard’s 47.1. However, shooting from the perimeter, the UVic women made good on five of 12 attempts while the Lions had only two for eight.

Looking to close the gap, the Vikes came out hard in the second half and had the momentum with a block by Bugiardini on an attempted jumper by the Lions’ Ballestero. A fast-break layup by Goodis put the Vikes up by two but defensive breakdowns haunted the UVic women and although they came well within range of their NAIA competition, the Vikes were unable to take the victory.

“Again we got off to a slow start but we battled a lot harder in tonight’s game,” said Vikes assistant coach Leanne Evans. “Jessica Renfrew had a great tournament and really led the team. We played pretty even in the second half but we just had too many defensive breakdowns to win the game.”

The Vikes will now fly home to wrap-up preparations for their return to Canada West action as they are on the road Jan. 11 and 12 to face the University of Winnipeg Wesmen and the University of Manitoba Bisons.