By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
(ISN) – VANCOUVER, B.C. – It wasn’t the ending the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team wanted but their efforts on the court tonight, Mar. 7, were enough to show the program’s future is in bright hands. The Alberta Pandas dropped the Vikes, 78-74, in a thrilling Canada West bronze-medal match up at UBC’s War Memorial Gym in Vancouver.
Despite the loss Victoria put up a valiant second half thanks to the leadership of fifth years Jessica Renfrew and Cassandra Goodis. Forward Renfrew led with 26 points and seven steals, while point guard Goodis put away 17 points and logged an impressive 10 assists. Goodis also nailed three of six three-point attempts, while Canada West Rookie of the Year Amira Giannattasio chipped in with 16 points.
“I am so proud of Jess and Cass as this is one of the most difficult games to play,” said Dani Sinclair, Vikes women’s basketball head coach, whose team’s loss yesterday denied them a spot at CIS nationals. “They came out and played like champions and the rest of the team cares a lot for them and really battled hard. It just shows that we have a really bright future ahead and that Jess and Cass have really left the girls with a legacy to carry on with.”
The Pandas were led by the senior trio of Saskia van Ginhoven, Megan Vande Kraats and Hillier. Van Ginhoven totaled 20 points and nine rebounds while going 8-for-9 from the line. Vande Kraats had the game’s only double-double finishing with 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Hillier added 14 points, 12 of which came from beyond the arc. The Pandas led for over 35 minutes of the game, while shooting 47 per cent from the field.
It was an even opening quarter that saw Victoria’s Renfrew and Giannattasio tally six and five points, respectively. Alberta showed their depth in scoring as four players finished with four points each and six-foot-three forward Vande Kraats picked up six rebounds. The Pandas led 22-18 entering the second.
Eight points from guard Megan Wickstrom powered the Pandas to out-score Victoria 23-13 in the second quarter. Wickstrom’s two three-point shots pushed Alberta up 45-31 entering half time, while Victoria’s Renfrew added another five points to her total.
In the third quarter it was all Victoria, and more specifically Renfrew, as the Vikes out-scored Alberta 17-10 thanks to 10 points from the Claremont graduate. Three different Victoria players hit outside shots, while van Ginhoven scored eight of the Pandas’ 10 points. Alberta led just 59-55 entering the fourth quarter despite Victoria getting as close to a one-point deficit in the game.
The final 10 minutes were fast and furious as early on both teams found success on their opening possessions. Giannattasio opened for the Vikes dropping a long bomb, while Hillier was the distance responder for Alberta. Each team secured 19 points in the quarter, while the final four minutes were a thriller.
Following a three and an immediate layup from Renfrew the game was squared 64-64. Alberta’s Hillier put in a three that kept Alberta at the forefront, while Giannattasio put four quick points on the board for Victoria to cut Alberta’s lead back to one, 69-68. Bugiardini put two in from the line to boost the Vikes 72-71 with 40 seconds on the clock but back the other way Hillier put in the shot that secured the bronze medal for Alberta. The fifth-year Surrey, B.C. native’s baseline bomb put the Pandas back in the driver’s seat, while two more free throws made from Van Ginhoven was just a twist of the dagger.
A huge block from Van de Kraats on a fast-break opportunity for Goodis got the travelling contingent of Alberta fans off their feet, as Alberta held on for a 78-74 final score. With the win Alberta secures the Canada West bronze medal to end their season.
“You have to feel really good about how they battled,” added Sinclair. “It just speaks to how we have played all year, battling back, and we did it again tonight but just fell a little short to a really good team.”
This marks the end of CIS basketball for Vikes fifth years Goodis and Renfrew, while the Pandas graduate van Ginhoven, Hillier and Van de Kraats.
ALB: 22-27-10-19: 78
UVIC: 18-20-17-19: 74
ALB: Saskia Van Ginhoven (20), Sally Hillier (14), Megan Van de Kraats (13)
UVIC: Jessica Renfrew (26), Cassandra Goodis (17), Amira Giannattasio (16)