Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds women’s basketball team jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back, defeating Queen’s University 58-50 Thursday night at War Memorial Gymnasium. With the win, the Thunderbirds improve to 3-0 in exhibition play, while the Gaels fall to 4-1.
Kara Spotton led the Thunderbirds with 11 points and four rebounds. Harleen Sidhu finished with 10 points and five boards. Jenny Wright was the top gunner for Queen’s finishing with 14 points, while Robyn Pearson contributed a double-double pouring in 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds for the visitors.
“The fact we saw a lot of growth from our last game is what you want to see at this time of year,” said UBC head coach Deb Huband. “Every week you want to take some strides as a group and i thought we came out with really good intensity and set the tone defensively. We lost a little bit of that intensity in the second half, but overall we showed a number of good signs of how we want to execute this season.”
Last season Queen’s finished 18-9 on the season and second in the OUA, losing to the eventual CIS Champions from Windsor in the OUA final. They also represented the OUA at the 2014 CIS Championship Tournament. This year head coach Dave Wilson, now in his 33rd season at the helm of the Gaels program, returned all his starters from a year ago including division all-stars Liz Boag and Wright.
UBC jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead on the visitors, with Sidhu scoring four of the first 14 points. The Gaels finally got on the board with 3:11 in the opening quarter. They would go on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a Boag three-pointer to cut the lead to 14-7. The Thunderbirds led 16-9 after the opening quarter.
The Thunderbirds added to their lead in the second quarter going up 21-9 on the strength of five straight points from two-time CIS All-Canadian Kris Young. Looking to cut into UBC’s lead Queen’s was very aggressive on the defensive end of the court, double teaming the first pass, however, the Thunderbirds were able to counteract the pressure with strong passing, finding the open player for an easy bucket. After back to back jumpers from Spotton put UBC in front 27-12, Wright hit a three-pointer for Queen’s to cut the lead to 12, 27-15. The Thunderbirds would go into the break up 31-17.
Young led the way in the opening half for UBC scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds. UBC shot 48.3 % from the floor in the first half, compared to 19.2% shooting for Queen’s. Boag and Wright each had five points apiece for the Gaels.
Down 14 after the opening half, the Gaels quickly cut into the lead in third quarter opening the second half on a 6-0 run. Pearson scored six of the Gaels first eight points in the quarter to cut the lead to 33-25 UBC. Spotton put the Thunderbirds back in front by 15 with five straight points of her own. Wright hit a runner in the final moments of the quarter to make it a nine point game, 45-36 UBC after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Gaels got as close as five points when Wright hit a jumper and then two free throws to make it a 55-50 game with 2:40 remaining to play. However, the Thunderbirds defence shut the door the rest of the way, not allowing another point. The final score was 58-50.
Thursday’s game featured three former Handsworth Royals. UBC’s Young and Diana Lee, as well as Queen’s second-year player Abby Dixon all played at the North Vancouver high school.
“People are stepping up and giving us contributions, whether it is Kara or Diana (Lee) or whether it is Cherub (Lum), Cassandra (Knievel), or Andrea (Strujic), people are expanding their roles and trying to bring more than did last year. If they continue to do that, we will have a lot of success this season.”
The Thunderbirds will continue its exhibition schedule Saturday in Abbotsford when they take on the University of Fraser Valley at 5:00 pm.