New-year openers pits Vikes against Prairie leaders Huskies, Pandas

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by Ali Lee

January 7, 2014, VICTORIA (ISN) – Following a short holiday break, the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team are ready for the restart of the Canada West season, hosting Saskatchewan and Alberta this weekend, January 10-11, at McKinnon Gym.

The Vikes finished the fall portion of their conference play with a 7-3 record, tied for the top of the Pacific Division, while the Pandas and Huskies exited 2013 ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in the CIS.

VIKES MEDIA GUIDE  /  LIVE STATS & VIDEO

There was no shortage of play for the Vikes women, who competed in a three-game CIS Holiday Classic tournament, Dec. 28-30, in Halifax. With a win over each of Western and Dalhousie, the island squad conceded only one loss to McMaster. Third-year forward Jessica Renfrew continued her dominance on the floor, pacing Victoria as the lead scorer in all three games including a 27 and 25-point performance in the two wins.

“We really bounced back (from the 76-54 loss to McMaster) against Western,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair about the holiday exhibition series. “Jess scored a lot but it was really her defence that made the difference. She rebounded the way we needed her to.”

Along with Renfrew, point guard Cassandra Goodis, and regular starters Jenna Bugiardini, Shaylyn Crisp and Sarah Semeniuk showed their consistency while on tour.

It’s back to business this weekend though, as the Vikes will be forced to contend with a skilled Saskatchewan side backed by the conference’s third-highest scorer Dalyce Emmerson, averaging 20.5 points per game. A tight turn around will also require the Vikes to regroup for a physical and gritty Pandas squad that have only conceded two losses this season. The 9-1 Huskies lead the Prairie Division, while the Pandas are in a three-way tie for second with an 8-2 record.

“We are going to need to play better defence against two top CIS teams this weekend,” said Sinclair. “We need to keep the ball in front of us, play defence in every position and we need to get better at holding teams.”

The Vikes will host the Saskatchewan Huskies on Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. and will turn around to host the Alberta Pandas on Jan. 11 at 5 p.m. Both games will be broadcast with live video and stats at canadawest.tv.
 For ticket information visit govikesgo.com/tickets.

The 2014 Vikes basketball openers will be hosted in conjunction with the first-ever Vikes Nation launch. Vikes Nation is the community of active people who enjoy healthy living and who pursue excellence in sport. A special pre-launch party, featuring Olympian Simon Whitfield, will take place on Jan. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the UVic Bookstore, while a variety of activity is planned for the official launch on Jan. 10. At half-time of the men’s basketball game, the three finalists for the Vikes Rally Song contest will perform, with the winner also being announced. Several prices and activations will be happening and all Vikes Nation members can show up, swipe and win.

For more information on Vikes Nation and the launch party visit vikesnation.com.

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