By Jamie Umbach, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA – After a recent string of disappointing results on the road, the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team returns home to welcome mainland rivals the UBC Thunderbirds to the CARSA Performance Gym on Jan. 29-30. The Vikes currently hold a 5-9 record, good for seventh in the Canada West Pacific Division, while the 6-8 T-Birds are in fifth.
After conceding consecutive weekend sweeps to Alberta and Winnipeg, the Vikes will return to CARSA and welcome the familiar home floors. The Vikes are expected to play in front of a healthy and vibrant crowd in their Annual Shoot for the Cure event on Friday, Jan. 29. The fact that this weekend’s games will be played against their biggest rivals UBC adds incentive for the Vikes to work themselves back to winning ways.
“No matter where the teams in this rivalry find themselves in the standings, you can always expect a very competitive game,” said Vikes women’s head coach Dani Sinclair. “Adapting to UBC’s style of play early in the game will be key. They have a veteran point guard Diana Lee and a talented forward Kara Spotton who have had great years so far and will be a threat all night.”
The T-Birds are coming also coming off a pair of losses to the CIS No. 3 Regina Cougars (11-1), including a 71-69 last-second loss on Jan. 22 that ended a four-game win streak for the Vancouver side. Veteran T-Bird Lee finished with 25 points in the loss and, as expected, has been one of their top offensive performers this season with 44 assists and an average of 12.4 points per game. Fourth year Spotton has been clinical from the free throw line, 76-for-91, good enough for first in the CIS. The majority of the six-foot-two forward’s impact has come in the paint, where she holds a field goal percentage of 47.8 per cent inside the three-point line.
A bright spot for the Vikes this past weekend came from first-year guard Brittani Yee, who filled the gap in the starting lineup left for Amira Giannattasio. Rookie Yee had 12 and eight points, respectively, in both losses to the Wesmen last weekend. Fourth-year forward Jenna Bugiardini had her double-double streak of 11 games snapped after notching seven points and 10 rebounds in her team’s 73-52 loss on Jan. 23.
After two tough weekends, the Vikes have no time to dwell on the past as they begin their final stretch of regular season games. After playing UBC at home this upcoming weekend, the Vikes travel to Regina to face the Cougars on Feb. 5-6 before wrapping up regular season play at home against Brandon on Feb. 19-20.
“As long as we keep looking forward into these final six games, we’re still in control of our own fate,” added Sinclair about the hopes of grabbing a playoff spot. “We’ve backed ourselves against the wall and can’t dwell on two tough weekends.”
The Vikes and T-Birds tip off in their iconic pink uniforms for the Shoot for the Cure on Jan. 29 at 6:00 p.m., while both teams will square off again on Jan. 30 at 5:00 p.m. All games are available with pay-per-view video and stats at uvic.canadawest.tv while free live stats can be found at canadawest.org.
This year the Vikes will once again be partnering on game night with CTV Vancouver Island, 107.3 Kool FM and CFAX 1070 to bring a variety of activations throughout the evening. The CBCF will be hosting a 50-50 raffle at the game, while the Vikes varsity student council have arranged for the Bottle Depot to be on site collecting empty recyclable drink containers with proceeds going to the CBCF. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to show their support and win prizes, while social media posts can be tagged with #SFTC during the game.