Vikes take to mainland for T-Birds home openers


by Ali Lee,

(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – With the new divisions in the Canada West for women’s basketball the University of Victoria Vikes will only get this one away weekend to play rivals, the UBC Thunderbirds. The Vikes will travel to Vancouver, Nov. 7-8, for a double header against the T-Birds for their second week of play. This will be UBC’s season openers after a bye on opening weekend in the 11-team Pioneers Division.

Last weekend the unranked Vikes swept the then-ranked No. 8 Regina Cougars on Friday and Saturday. The Vikes opened with an 89-69 win over the Cougars on Oct. 31 despite getting off to a slow first quarter. Perimeter power was the difference as the Vikes hit nine long bombs, including four from fifth-year guard Jessica Renfrew and three from rookie guard Amira Giannattasio. Renfrew finished the night off with a team-high 21 points, while third year Jenna Bugiardini had 19.

On Nov. 1, the Vikes came away with another convincing victory, 80-64, thanks to seven three pointers from Giannattasio. The first year logged 21 points in her second regular season game ever, while Bugiardini had 12 points and Shaylyn Crisp had 11.

This weekend the Vikes will play their mainland rivals the UBC Thunderbirds who are currently ranked second overall in the CIS coach’s polls. The last time the Vikes and ‘Birds met was Feb. 14-15 in 2014 and the Vikes were victorious, 85-73, in the first game at McKinnon Gym but fell 79-69 the next night in Vancouver.

The Thunderbirds finished 16-6 in the 2013-14 regular season and last won the CIS title in 2008. The ‘Birds are led by head coach Deb Huband, in her 20th season, and boast the 2012-13 Canada West MVP, Kris Young, as well as fourth year Cassandra Knievel and Harleen Sidhu. In addition, UBC add a recruiting class of two NCAA Division I transfers, Diana Lee, from Boise State University, and Kara Spotton, of Colorado State. Spotton was a member of Team Canada at the 2013 Universiade in Russia.

The T-Birds has the opening weekend off and will be looking to get off to a good start on their home opening weekend. The Nov. 7 game will tip off at 6 p.m., while Nov. 8 the game will happen at 5 p.m.