Sinclair’s squad continue climb in final regular season stretch

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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – It certainly hasn’t been an easy route so far for the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team but following last weekend’s wins over the Lethbridge Pronghorns the Vikes have secured a spot in the post-season. The Vikes started the first half of their Canada West campaign with just two wins in eight games but have since bounced back to sit 9-7. This weekend, Feb. 6-7, the Vikes will face the Brandon Bobcats (3-15).

Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair, a member of Victoria’s last team to win a CIS national championship in 2002-03, knows that you can’t take any team for granted.

“Record is certainly not indicative of this team (Brandon),” said Sinclair. “They have had a lot of close games against tougher teams and this weekend there is no pressure on them (as the Bobcats are out of the play-off race). It is also their last games at home.”

Sinclair’s squad will need a big push from seasoned veterans Jessica Renfrew and Cassandra Goodies. Renfrew, who neared the Canada West all-time record for most points in a game just two weeks ago, is ninth in conference scoring (15.3). Point guard Goodis is just seven assists away from breaking the Canada West all-time career assists record of 539 held by Lani Gibbons, of Simon Fraser, from 2003-08.

Both fifth years will be looking to close out their Vikes careers on a high after losing out in the opening round of playoffs for the past two seasons.

“We will need to use our depth this weekend,” said Sinclair, who knows looking outside of Renfrew and Goodis, is going to be the difference maker. “We need to be more consistent defensively and continue to fight all weekend. We need our bigs Nicole (Karstein), Emily (Jentsch) and Jenna Bugiardini to haul down double digits in rebounding.”

Last weekend, Jan. 30-31, the Vikes pulled out two wins over Lethbridge with the second of the two games coming down to the wire. Rookie Amira Giannattasio stole the show with a buzzer-beating jumper to seal the 80-78 victory and weekend sweep. That weekend also saw Renfrew total 39 points and Bugiardini grab 43.

The Bobcats are led in scoring by third-year forward Alyssa Montgomery (13.1 PPG) and third-year guard Mikaela Stanton (8.8 PPG). Former national team member Novell Thomas, is the head coach of Brandon.

The Vikes will travel to Brandon, Man. to play two games against the Bobcats on Feb. 6 and 7. Friday’s affair will take place at 4 p.m. PT and Saturday will tip of at 3 p.m. PT. Both games will be available live at uvic.canadawest.tv.

Playoff notes: Should the Vikes finish fifth, sixth or seventh in the Pioneers Division they will play a best-of-three play-in series Feb. 20-22. Only if they finish fifth will they host this series. A top four finish in the division would secure an automatic spot in the Canada West quarter-finals with the top three teams hosting, Feb. 27 to Mar. 1.