The second-day of Canada-West playoffs will start today with a rare afternoon game as #5 University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds kickoff their play-in series against rival, #12 University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) Timberwolves. It is an historical afternoon for the Timberwolves because this is their first postseason appearance since joining in 2012. The two teams met almost two weeks ago which saw Thunderbirds sweep the series.
The Thunderbirds are coming off a successful season where they had a record of 16-4, fourth in CW standings. The Thunderbirds ended the regular season hot as they won seven straight games. On the other side, Timberwolves had a record of 6-14 and finished 12th in the Canada-West conference. They ended the regular season on sour note losing their final five games.
The Thunderbirds on offense are led by second-year guard, Maddison Penn and fifth-year forward, Kara Spotton. Penn came from Australia this season and made her presence known as she finished second in the conference in points per a game with 18.1 and points scored with 362. She also had 117 rebounds. Penn was third in the conference for FG made as she convert on 121/ 314 shots. Spotton who arrived on UBC campus in 2014-2015 season from Colorado State University. Spotton this season averaged 12.0 ppg and scored 239 points in 20 games. She led the conference in offensive rebounds with 72 and had 147 rebounds (11th in CW). Spotton lastly was seventh in conference for FG % with 48.5 %. The Thunderbirds averaged 72.8 points per a game which was third in Canada-West.
The Timberwolves on offense are led by their one-two punch of second-year guard, Maria Mongomo and third-year forward, Vasiliki Louka. Mongomo who hails from Spain led the team in scoring as she averaged 16.1 ppg and scored 322 points (6th in CW) in 20 games this season. She also had 155 rebounds which ninth in the conference. Louka who comes from Greece averaged 15.8 ppg and scored 316 points (9th in CW). She also had 64 rebounds which was second in CW and had 185 rebounds all-together (3rd in the conference). Lastly, she was second in the Canada-West for most minutes played with 661 minutes where she averaged 33 minutes per a game. The Timberwolves averaged 66.9 points per a game.
The Thunderbirds were great on defense this season as they held opponents to 61.2 ppg which was fifth in CW. They also held their opponents to 36.4 % shooting. The Thunderbirds’ averaged 21.0 turnovers per a game. Spotton led the Thunderbirds in blocks and steals as she had 22 blocks along with 33 steals.
The Timberwolves’ were not very successful on defense this season as opponents averaged 71.2 points per a game which ranked them 13th in Canada-West. Timberwolves’ opponents shot 40.3 % which was 16th in CW. The Timberwolves averaged 18.9 turnovers. Mongomo lead the team in steals with 49 (6th in CW) and Louka led the team in blocks with 19. She also had 121 defensive rebounds (5th in CW).
Why the Thunderbirds could win-
The Australian, Penn will be too much to handle for Timberwolves. Penn hit the double-digit mark for scoring 18 times this season including two games in which she scored more than 30 points. Another reason, why the Thunderbirds could win is their great defense led by Spotton. The last key will be UBC to force the turnovers as the Timberwolves average 19.3 per a game.
Why the Timberwolves could win–
The answer is very simple, the Thunderbirds will not be able stop the one-two punch of Louka and Mongomo. The two combined for 638 of UNBC’s 1337 points this season. The Timberwolves could win if they can out-rebound Thunderbirds who average 41.9 rebounds per a game while UNBC averages 38.1 rebounds per a game. The Timberwolves will need to force UBC to commit turnovers as they average 18.9 per a game.
May the best British Columbia school win.