Vikes bow out of Canada West Quarter-Finals

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By Jamie Umbach with files from MacEwan Athletics

 VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team fought hard to keep their season alive down 1-0 in the best-of-three Canada West Quarter-Finals but couldn’t find a way back in a 77-62 Game 2 loss against the MacEwan Griffins in Edmonton, Alta. on Saturday, Mar. 5.

Jenna Bugiardini was one point short of a double-double with nine points, 11 rebounds whileJenna Krug had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. Kristy Gallagher continued her hot scoring pace in the playoffs with 22 points and four rebounds on Saturday night.

“Kristy is in some ways a first year in terms of minutes and her progression has been amazing this season,” commented Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair of her second year guard. “What I like the most about her is that she plays with a lot of passion, wants to be coached and is hungry to improve every game.”

MacEwan’s Megan Wood put on a show all weekend by helping her team advance to the Edmonton side’s first Canada West Final Four appearance with an impressive 34 points and six rebounds in the victory. Kendall Lydon shot 5-for-13 from the floor for the Griffins with 16 points, seven assists and three rebounds.

“Hats off to MacEwan as they did what they needed to do,” said Sinclair. “We had a little bit more fight in us tonight but fell short. We had to be a lot better than last night to beat them with our backs against the wall.”

The second game of the three-game series picked up right where Game 1 ended with a very close, hard fought first quarter. The Griffins opened the scoring on a six-point run before Victoria ran off six-straight points to tie the game 6-6.  The lead changed several more times before a Kelly O’Hallahan, jump shot gave MacEwan a one-point advantage going into the second quarter.

MacEwan opened the second quarter with a seven-point and shot 45 per cent from the floor.  The Vikes continued to battle the Griffins and were able to pull within one point of their hosts with one minute remaining before halftime.  The Vikes entered the break down three points at 39-36.

Victoria shot 45 per cent as well in the second quarter and were led by Gallagher with 10 points. Six different Vikes have scored at least two points for coach Sinclair at the break. The Griffins were paced by Wood with a game-high 19 points while Paige Knull and Lydon each have seven points at the half. The team rebounds were even at the intermission with both teams pulling down 24 boards. The lead changed hands a total of four times in the first half.

In the third quarter, the Griffins continued to play solid defence by holding the Vikes in check early while building a double-digit lead midway through the quarter. After a Victoria timeout the Vikes went on an eight-point run to pull within two points. The third ended with MacEwan holding a slim four-point advantage.
The fourth quarter was all MacEwan as the Griffins outscored Victoria by 11 points to win their first ever Canada West playoff series 2-0 and move on to the Canada West Final Four in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan hosted by the Huskies.?

The Vikes women have much to look forward to with every member eligible to return in 2016-17 when the Vikes host the 2017 CIS Women’s Basketball Championship in March. This year’s playoff experience will go a long way in the Vikes’ long-term plan of preparing to host the country’s best in women’s basketball next season.

“There was a point in January where we took some bad losses and we were worried about growth,” explained Sinclair. “In the past six weeks I thought we showed that necessary resilience needed to compete with the league’s best.”

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