KELOWNA, BC – The UBCO Heat and the University of Regina Cougars got the 2017 part of the Canada West schedule underway in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium Friday night, as the national-number-fours took control in an impressive victory.
The biggest difference in the game was rebounding. The visiting Cougars out-rebounded the Heat 52-29, and were especially dominant in the Heat half, pulling down 21 offensive rebounds to the Heat’s four. Those rebounds were converted into 18 second chance points, while the Heat weren’t able to put up any.
After rebounding, ball control will have to the biggest focus for UBCO. The home side had only two assists in the game and committed 25 turnovers, 18 of which came from Cougar steals. Regina was able to convert those 25 turnovers into 31 points.
In terms of offence, UBCO had an off shooting night. Normally consistent from three-point range, the Heat went 0-11 from behind the arc. The home side made 11 of their 43 field goal attempts (25.6%), and were more like themselves from the free throw line, where they made 16 of 22 (72.7%).
Individually, Regina’s Katie Polischuk led all scorers in the game, finishing with 16 points. Britton Belyk, Avery Pearce, and Kyanna Giles also finished in double digits for the Cougars, putting up 11, 10, and 10 respectively. For the Heat, Emily Kanester led the way with 13 points, with Jordan Korol and Vanessa Botteselle finishing with six and five respectively.
The visiting Cougars were in control for most of the first quarter, holding a 14-8 after the first ten minutes of play. The shooting was seemingly rusty for both teams, as there was no score until the 6:28 mark when Christina McCusker made a pair of free throws to put Regina up 2-0. The Heat got on the board thanks to a Vanessa Botteselle layup a minute later. Twice the Heat cut the lead to a single point, when with two minutes left Emma Jonas made a layup to cut the Cougar lead to 7-6, and with 40 seconds left when Emily Kanester made a pair of layups to bring it to 9-8. A three-pointer from Avery Pearce and a Kyanna Giles layup gave Regina the 14-8 lead at the first buzzer.
Free throws played a big role for the Heat to start the second quarter, as five of their first seven points came from the stripe. Chloe Kennedy converted an and-one to get the second frame’s scoring started, and Korol and Kanester each made a pair to make it 16-15 by the 8:17 mark. The Regina offence picked up after that, though, and they began to stretch their lead. A pair of three-pointers, from Britton Belyk and Kyanna Giles, led the way to a 37-20 Regina lead at half-time.
The second half saw Regina maintain control, outscoring the Heat 18-8 in the third quarter and 21-10 in the fourth. Polischuk scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half, going 3-7 from long range. The visitors’ defence was the key to their second-half dominance, and proved itself to be a fundamental reason for the team’s national ranking.
The Heat (2-9) and the Cougars (7-2) will play again Saturday night, with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.