Vikes battle T-Birds for playoff power in final regular season games

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by Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

February 11, 2014, VICTORIA (ISN) – The playoff picture will become a lot clearer following this weekend’s final games of the Canada West regular season. The University of Victoria Vikes will split a home-and-home series with the No. 9-ranked UBC Thunderbirds for the chance to host the first round of playoffs.

The Vikes will host first, February 14, also the annual Shoot for the Cure night, while the T-Birds will have home-court advantage on February 15. 

FULL SCHEDULE  |  STANDINGS  |  STATISTICS
 
PLAYOFF PICTURE
In the Pacific Division the Fraser Valley Cascades and UBC Thunderbirds have brief bragging rights, topping the division with a 15-5 record. This weekend the Cascades have a double header with Trinity Western (5-15), while the Vikes and ‘Birds will battle it out for one, or potentially two, hosting spots in the post-season. In the Prairies, CIS-ranked No. 3 Alberta and No. 4 Regina continue to duke it out for top-spot, both with 18-2 records, while No. 6 Saskatchewan holds third comfortably with a 17-3 record. The final Prairie spot is still up for grabs, with Calgary and Winnipeg being the lucky hopefuls.
 
Hosts for the Canada West quarter-finals will be the top-two finishers in each division and the format will be a best-of-three series over the Feb. 28-Mar. 2 weekend. Should the Vikes host the first round of playoffs, the games will be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if needed) at 7pm, 7pm and 3 pm. Should the Vikes be required to also host the Canada West men’s Final Four, the women’s quarter-final games will be changed to 6pm, 6pm and 3 pm (Fri-Sun).
 
SCOUTING THE UVIC VIKES
2012-13 CW Record: 16-6 (3rd Pacific)
2013 Playoffs: 0-2 (lost to Regina)
Last CW Title: 1999
Last CIS Title: 2002
 
CIS Ranking: N/A
CW Ranking: 3rd Pacific
 
The Vikes had a seven-game win streak snapped on Feb. 8 after a relentless Thompson Rivers squad edged the home team 84-82. Just one night prior the Vikes defeated the WolfPack 77-60 and Jenna Bugiardini became the second person in the last decade to reach 33 points in a game. All season long Bugiardini has been a utility player but fourth-year forward Jessica Renfrew and point guard Cassandra Goodis are definitely anchors for the team. Off the pine a rotation of Shaylyn CrispJenny Lewis and Jenna Krug have provided different bursts of energy for the young Vikes, while one-two punch of six-foot-three Sarah Semeniuk and second year Nicole Karstein have provided the consistency down low.  The Vikes boast the Canada West’s fifth-best scoring offence (68.2) and third-best free throw percentage (.724). Bugiardini is 11th in the conference in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game, while Goodis is second in assists, averaging 5.4 per game. Head coach Dani Sinclair, along with former T-Bird and now Vikes assistant head coach Leanne Evans, hope to guide the Vikes past the first round after last season’s heart-breaking quarter-final end in Regina.
 
SCOUTING THE UBC THUNDERBIRDS
2012-13 CW Record: 17-5 (2nd Pacific)
2013 Playoffs: 0-2
Last CW Title: 2012
Last CIS Title: 2008
 
CIS Ranking: #9
CW Ranking: Tied 1st Pacific
 
The UBC Thunderbirds improved to No. 9 in this week’s CIS rankings after a sweep of UBC Okanagan, Feb. 7-8. Entering this weekend the T-Birds are on an eight-game win streak thanks to the talented fourth-year duo of Harleen Sidhu and Kris Young. It has been Sidhu or Young as the lead scorer for UBC in every game except one throughout the 2013-14 regular season.  Young is sixth in the conference in scoring, averaging 16.8 points per game, while Sidhu is ninth (15.8). In addition the T-Birds boast talent in third-year guard Cassandra Knievel and forward Adrienne Parkin. Head coach Deb Huband is well-known in the Canada West, having helped UBC win three Pacific Division crowns, three conference banners and three CIS championships. Huband celebrated her 400th career victory over Calgary on Feb. 1 and will be looking to continue that streak this weekend.
 
THIS WEEKEND
The Vikes and Birds will go head-to-head first on Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. at McKinnon Gym. The night will also be the annual Shoot for the Cure, where the Vikes plan on dedicating proceeds from the game to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. More info on Shoot for the Cure can be found here. The Vikes will also honour their fifth year and graduating players. On Feb. 15, the Vikes will travel across the pond to War Memorial Gym for their second game against UBC at 5 p.m. Both games will be broadcast live at canadawest.tv.

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