by Cary Mellon
February 16, 2014, KAMLOOPS, BC (ISN) – A tremendous first quarter that saw the UBC Okanagan Heat women’s basketball team jump out to a 24-14 lead wasn’t enough of a cushion as the Thompson Rivers WolfPack returned the favour in the second frame and held on to defeat the Heat 72-65 in the final game of the season Saturday afternoon in Kamloops.
In what head coach Heather Semeniuk agreed was the “the best quarter of basketball” that her team may have played all year saw a UBC Okanagan team play with great energy and zeal and playing relentless pressure defense.
Starting the game with defensive pressure paid off for the Heat as they generated 16 points off of 13 Thompson Rivers’ turnovers, the quick Heat lineup stole the ball eight times in the first 10 minutes.
For UBC Okanagan Emily Kanester (Vernon, BC) scored nine points in both halves to give her a game high 18, she also hauled in seven rebounds, and grabbed four steals. Sarah Allison (South Surrey, BC) potted in 11 in the first half, finished with 13 and dished out four assists. 5-6 guard, Olivia Johnson (Kelowna, BC), led the Heat with nine rebounds. Krystal Schouten (Winnipeg, MB), in her final gamer, battled foul trouble yet still managed five boards in 16 minutes on the floor.
All four first year players impressed with their play in Kamloops on Saturday, rookie point guard Claire Elliott (N. Vancouver, BC) had been playing so well of late earned the starting nod. Shenelle Tamminem (Calgary, AB), another first year player, scored all 11 of her points in the second half; Johnson led the team in rebounds and in just 19 minutes on the floor meanwhile Julia Reichert (Princeton, BC) hauled in four rebounds and blocked a shot in just seven minutes herself.
The WolfPack may not have even survived the first quarter if not for their shooting from long range. Outside of a layup Sarah Malate at 5:42 the only points the ‘Pack were able to generate were from four made threes, the team actually shot 4-5 from three in the first quarter, this accounted for 12 of their 14 points. Taysia Worsfold and Sydney Williams were the long range assassins each going 2-2 in the quarter.
The ‘Pack used the long range shot to comeback on the Heat in the second quarter as Worfield (1-1) and William (2-2) were at it again, the team hit all the of their three point attempts in the second quarter, and outscored UBC Okanagan 25-11 to head into the half with a 39-35 lead.
TRU finished the half 7-8 from deep yet did not hit on another three the rest of the game missing on all three of their attempts.
UBC Okanagan kept the pressure that worked so well in the first quarter up for most of the game, with Angela White (N. Vancouver, BC), Johnson and Elliott all putting immense pressure on the WolfPack guards and the team continually played opportunistic basketball all game long, finishing with 31 points off of 27 ‘Pack turnovers. UBC Okanagan turned the ball over in comparison just 18 times and only surrendered 10 points off of those turnovers.
Even with the consistent pressure the Heat were unable to cut too deeply into the WolfPack lead for much of the third. The start of the fourth UBC Okanagan made one last push to climb back into the game, and at the 6:28 mark tied it up at 56, only to see TRU finish on a 16-9 run and win 72-65.
With the loss the Heat finish their third Canada West season with three wins and 19 losses; yet with the strong play of the first and second year athletes on this team coach Heather Semeniuk will be looking forward to her 21st season next fall. And with such a young and talented team that has tasted Canada West play they will be ready for next season and coach Semeniuk believes this crew has a good chance to really improve.
The WolfPack move on to the Canada West Quarter finals where they will play a best two of three versus the Alberta Pandas in Edmonton beginning this Friday (Feb 21).
Following the game the ceremony was held in the Thompson Rivers Gymnasium handing out the Presidents’ Cup. The first time in 11 years the Cup has been awarded, and both university presidents were on hand for the ceremony, this year TRU won the men’s Cup and UBC Okanagan captured the women’s. Read about the award here.