Heat Vancouver natives shine but Young, Sidhu seal T-Birds win

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by Kevin Ilomin (Sports Information Student – assistant)

February 9, 2014, VANCOUVER, BC (ISN) – Timely shots and defensive chops kept the UBC Okanagan Heat women’s basketball hanging tough with the Thunderbirds through three quarters, but the Thunderbirds would pull away to a 68-55 win behind monster games from Harleen Sidhu and Kris Young on Saturday night in Vancouver.

With a crowd of visiting fans behind them, the best quarter the Heat enjoyed was the first, where they held the Thunderbirds to a 14-10 lead. The size of the Thunderbirds was seemed to be an absent threat for the first ten minutes as the Heat played stifling defense to force five turnovers.

It wasn’t until halfway through the second quarter that the Thunderbirds’ leading scorer Harleen Sidhu seemed to awake from slumber as she began to assert herself in the paint for UBC. She led the charge down on the block, backed largely by Young as the Thunderbirds outscored the Heat 44-28 in that area.

A lousy second quarter may have been the difference for the Heat, as they were outscored 17-8 in that period. With a single point separating the teams’ totals in the third and fourth, the first quarter saw the next largest margin in a 14-10 UBC edge.

Still, the Heat forced eight turnovers out of the Thunderbirds by half, and had had denied every three point attempt with tenacity. By the game’s end UBC only connected on two three balls.

“We definitely made a concerted effort to be out on the perimeter and defend the three point line,” said Heat assistant coach Bobby Mitchell. “We thought our ball pressure was good yesterday, and it was kind of second and third rotations that we cleaned up, and it showed tonight. We were in passing lanes, we challenged a lot of shots tonight.”

Down 37-18 heading into the second half, the Heat would not go down quietly. The comeback charge was primarily led by Elliott and fourth-year guard Angela White. White managed to sneak past her defender on the baseline to make a layup that would cut the lead to nine. During a quarter that became a punch and counter-punch affair, White scored six of eight total points in an unanswered run before the Thunderbirds took over again to finish the quarter on a 12-3 run of their own.

Coming into the fourth it was Elliott doing work again as she got a hoop and the harm to cut the Thunderbird lead to 10, though she would not convert on the free throw. However, moments later she drilled a trey to cut the lead to seven, the closest her team would be in a quarter otherwise dominated by UBC. UBC’s Young would end the bleeding following Elliott’s three, and her team would regain control from then on.

Still, the Heat fought on despite the efforts of Young attempting to deflate them at every turn. Ultimately, it was a three ball by Sidhu that quelled the Heat once and for all.

Sidhu and Young wound up with 21 and 20 points, respectively, to lead all scorers. Sidhu also grabbed nine rebounds to Young’s eight.

The Heat’s Elliott and third-year guard Sarah Allison (South Surrey, BC) netted 12 apiece. Elliott led all Heat players in minutes with 36 during the second night of her Vancouver homecoming. White would go on to finish with eight points on 4-6 shooting.

Both Vancouver natives, Elliott said after the game that they really enjoyed being back home and at War Memorial. “It’s really fun playing here,” the rookie said. “I know Angela and I love this gym, and we’ve played here lots. I think we’ve both said we’ve played some good games here. It’s fun being in this atmosphere and being home.”

The Heat fall to 3-17 with the loss while the Thunderbirds improve to 15-5 to remain atop the Pacific. The Heat are back at home next Thursday to host the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack for their final home stand of the season while the Thunderbirds faceoff against the Victoria Vikes. Tip-off at the UBC Okanagan gymnasium is 6 p.m.