By Ali Lee, 

Women’s basketball player Jenna Krug

(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team’s uphill climb gets a bit steeper this weekend as they host the CIS No. 2-ranked Alberta Pandas for two games, Nov. 28-29, at McKinnon Gym. Friday’s match up will the Victoria-hosted and 8th Annual Shoot for the Cure in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.


The Vikes enter this weekend after back-to-back double-header losses to both No. 4 UBC and No. 6 Saskatchewan. Both Alberta (5-1) and Victoria (2-4) have two games in hand but eight teams separate them in the standings of the Canada West Pioneers Division. Regardless, the season is young and both teams still have a long way to go before qualification for the CIS championship, hosted in March by Laval.

Last weekend, Nov. 21-22, the Vikes lost by more than double digits in both games to a feisty Saskatchewan team. On the positive, fifth year Jessica Renfrew was the team’s top scorer on both nights to total 49 points all weekend.

“We need little pieces (of scoring) from everyone in order to be successful,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “We weren’t consistent enough last weekend and the reality is you just can’t have an off night in this league.”

Sinclair needs those little pieces to come from scoring leaders such as Jenna Bugiardini, who averages 17 points per game but had only nine points on Nov. 21. Senior point guard Cassandra Goodis leads the Canada West in assists, averaging 8.5, while also contributing on the scoreboard with 8.8 points per game. Rookie Amira Giannattasio, known for her distance shooting, is slowly finding her comfort zone, averaging 10 points per game but the Vikes will still need more fight out of players such as six-foot-one Nicole Karstein, fourth year Shaylyn Crisp and third year Jenna Krug.

“We really need to work on our rebounding in both ends,” added Sinclair, whose squad lacks a lot of height with only third year Karstein and rookie Amy Sprangers breaking past six feet.

On the other hand, things are falling in to place for the Pandas who are at the top of the Canada West and lead in most of the statistical categories. Last weekend the UBC Thunderbirds dealt Alberta a little hiccup after snapping their season opening five-game win streak. Pandas to watch will be scoring leaders Jessilyn Fairbanks, Saskia Van Ginhoven and Renee Byrne. Senior forward van Ginhoven is six-foot-one and leads the Pandas with an average of 15 points per game. Fourth-year guard Fairbanks leads the team in assists, while also averaging 13.7 points per game. Fellow fourth year guard Byrne was a double-digit scorer for the Pandas in both games against UBC last weekend.

Pandas coach Scott Edwards has nine years of coaching under his belt and was the 2013-14 Canada West Coach of the Year after Alberta captured the conference bronze medal in 2014.

The Vikes will host their Shoot for the Cure match up on Nov. 28 at 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men) against Alberta. The event is held in partnership with local partners CTV Vancouver Island, KOOL FM, and CFAX 1070. At the Nov. 28 game, the Vikes will be donating a portion of ticket sales to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF).More on Shoot for the Cure

The Vikes and Pandas will clash again, Nov. 29, at 5 p.m. All games will be available with live video and stats atcanadawest.tv.