Vikes Women Decide Own Playoff Fate With Win Over Brandon

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

February 20, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Needing a sweep of the Brandon Bobcats over the weekend to get into the Canada West playoff picture, the UVic Vikes women’s basketball team got the job done Saturday evening, following up Friday night’s 76-66 win with a 70-65 victory in the second game of the set at the CARSA Peformance Gym at UVic.

UVic’s Jenna Krug (6) would score 19 points against Brandon Saturday to lead the Vikes into the playoffs (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The win, combined with UBC’s 86-38 win over Winnipeg Saturday, means the Vikes vault into 5th place in the Canada West Pioneer Division and that they will now host a best-of-three, first round Play-In series against the 7th place Trinity Western Spartans starting Friday Feb. 26th.

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UVic’s Kristy Gallagher (9) drives to the net early against Brandon on Saturday. Gallagher would finish with 11 points on the night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Vikes came out with a mission Saturday, running up an early 10-point lead and after a bit of a Bobcat pushback, taking a 21-8 lead into the first break. The Vikes strong start was thanks in part to to Amira Giannattasio, who scored 27 points in Friday’s win and who picked up right where she left off on Saturday, nailing a pair of three-pointers and scoring eight points in the quarter.

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Vike’s guard Amira Giannattasio (3) gets in a footrace with Brandon’s Aleah Bridges (2) during Saturday’s game.  Giannattasio, who scored 27 points Friday, would follow that up with a 17-point performance on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Both teams started the second well, with UVic’s Marissa Dheensaw and Brandon’s Kaela Cranston hitting threes. The Vikes Kristy Gallagher then hit two threes of her own before teammate Jenna Krug joined the three-point parade to put the Vikes ahead 33-28 with three minutes left in the half. The teams would trade baskets after that and the Vikes went into the half leading 40-36.

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The Vike’s Jenna Krug (6) goes to the net for two of her 19 points against Brandon on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Vikes would crank it up a notch in the third quarter, using some fine play by Krug to build a 14-point lead at one point, their largest lead of the game and finishing the quarter up 59-47.

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UVic’s Nicole Karstein (10) goes up for a shot over Brandon’s Aleah Bridges (2) during the second half Saturday. Karstein would score 12 points in the Vikes win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Bobcats would keep scratching for their playoff lives though and an eight-point run to begin the fourth, plus some key missed shots and crucial turnovers by the Vikes, allowed the visitors to cut the lead to just four, 61-57, with eight minutes to play.

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UVic’s Jenna Bugiardini (13) leans in for two of her eight points against Brandon on Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The Bobcats would cut the lead to 68-65 with 20 seconds to play, but some clutch free throws from Giannattasio bumped the lead to 70-65 and sealed the deal for the Vikes.

Fourth-year Krug had a stellar performance for Victoria with 19 points, while Giannattasio added 17 points and seven rebounds. Gallagher went 3-for-6 from beyond the arc for a total of 11 points and four rebounds.

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Katie Langdon (12) leans in for a shot against the defence of Brandon’s Alyssa Montgomery (14) during the first half Saturday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

For Brandon, Alyssa Montgomery led the way with 18 points before fouling out late. Keisha Cox,with 11 and Kaela Cranston with 10, also hit double digits in the losing effort.

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Some clutch free throw shooting from the Vike’s Amira Giannattasio (3) with 20 seconds remaining, put the game out of reach for Aleah Bridges (2) and the rest of the Bobcats (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“For us to earn CARSA its first-ever playoff games is a great achievement for this team,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair of her team’s accomplishment. “Now we start fresh and we’ll see what we can do in the playoffs. I think the playoff implications came to mind for the girls down the stretch, but thankfully we built a big enough buffer to help us earn the win.”

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The always demonstrative Dani Sinclair, UVic’s Head Coach, was pleased with the win and that her team will bring playoff basketball to CARSA for the first time (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The first two games between the Vikes and Spartans in the best-of-three series on Feb. 26-27 go at 7:00 p.m. If necessary, the tiebreaker on Feb. 28 will go at 2:00 p.m.

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