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Story and Photos by a Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

January 29, 2016, Victoria BC (ISN) – Nicole Karstein scored off her own rebound at the buzzer to give the University of Victoria Vikes a 72-71 win over the UBC Thunderbirds in Canada West Women’s Basketball action Friday evening at the CARSA Performance Gym in Victoria.

Nicole Karstein (centre) celebrates with Vikes teammates Jenna Bugiardini (13) and Kristy Gallagher (9) following the Vikes 72-71 win over UBC on Friday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Karstein’s basket capped off an exciting see-saw game that saw the Vikes overcome a 12-point UBC third-quarter lead, out scoring the visitors 21-13 in the final frame to escape with the win, their first in five league games.

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It was Shoot for the Cure night at the Vikes basketball games and the student body was decked out in pink wigs in support (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Things started well for the Vikes Friday, as they jumped out to 10-2 and 12-4 leads early in the first quarter, but the Thunderbirds caught fire with some deadly outside shooting and the score was tied 20-20 at the end of the first quarter.

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Vikes guard Amira Giannattasio (3) finds the going tough against UBC defenders Jessica Hanson (11) and Kara Spotton (8) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Thunderbirds would continue with the hot hand in the second quarter, putting up three big outside shots to take a 33-28 lead and then outscoring the Vikes 22-12 in the frame to take a 42-32 lead into the half-time break.

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UVic’s Jenna Bugiardini (13) would lead all scorers Friday with 28 points against UBS (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

A solid third quarter from the Vikes, thanks in part to eight points from Janna Bugiardini, brought the home squad back to within seven, 58-51 at the end of three.

The Vikes would then turn it on in the fourth, especially Karstein, who would score nine of her 14 points in the frame, including the final basket that finished off a wild last minute of play.

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UVic’s Paige Thomson (15) looks toward the hoop against the defence of UBC’s Chelsea Hamming (13) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After Bugiardini put the Vikes up 70-66, UBC’s Diana Lee Lee put in her fifth three-pointer of the night to bring UBC back within one point. Following a time out, UBC inbounded in the front court and got the ball in Adriene Parkin’s hands and she was fouled under the hoop. Parkin put in both from the line to give the Thunderbirds a 71-70 lead with nine seconds left on the clock.

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UVic’s Jenna Krug (6) and UBC’s Cherub Lum (4) chase after a loose ball during Friday’s action (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

After a timeout of their own, the Vikes inbounded to Karstein who’s first shot hit the rim but the six-foot-one forward put in her own rebound at the buzzer to give the Vikes the 72-71 victory.

In addition to Karstein’s heroics, the Vikes were led by Bugiardini who led all scorers with 28 points. Amira Giannattasio also added 16. The Thunderbirds were led by senior Diana Lee whose five three pointers gave her a team-high 21 points, while Adrienne Parkin added 14 points and rookie Jessica Hanson totaled 13.

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UBC’s Diana Lee (5) goes up for two of her 21 points against UVic on Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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UBC’s Andrea Strujic (12) would be denied on this chance by the tough defence of UVic’s Marissa Dheensaw (left) and Jenna Bugiardini (right) (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“Those two have led us in so many ways all year long and continue to do so,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair about Bugiardini and Karstein’s performance. “We have been in a pretty dark place the last couple of weeks and I think that we just fought and that was the difference tonight. It felt like at times over the last couple of weeks we gave in and tonight we fought when we had our backs against the wall.”

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UVic’s Amira Giannattasio (3) has an easy layup for two of her 16 points Friday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win moves the Vikes record to 6-9 and into a fifth place with the Thunderbirds, also now 6-9, in the Canada West Pioneer Division. They remain in the hunt for the seventh and final playoff spot, battling UBC, Brandon (5-8) and Trinity Western (4-9) for that post-season berth.

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UVic’s Nicole Karstein (10) goes up for her buzzer-beating last second winning basket against UBC on Friday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Both teams will be right back at it again on Saturday night Jan. 30 at UVic starting at 5:00 pm. The game will be broadcast live on canadawest.tv.