Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
February 17, 2017, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Nicole Karstein scored 20 points, 13 of which came in the second half, to power the UVic Vikes to a 67-54 victory over the MacEwan Griffins in the opening game of their U Sports, Canada West Women’s Basketball playoff series Friday night at the CARSA Performance Gym in Victoria.
The win gives the Vikes a 1-0 lead in the best of three series and they can now wrap up the series with a win in Game 2 Saturday night at CARSA, another 7:00 pm start. Should a Game 3 be required, it will be played at 1:00 pm on Sunday, also at CARSA.
The game did not start well for the Vikes, as they seemed to suffer from some playoff jitters, missing a number of their early shots and falling into a 15-3 deficit with 3:30 to go in the first quarter.
They would turn the tide after that point, going on a 8-3 run to end the quarter down 18-11 and then using some steady defence, which ultimately forced the Griffins into 25 turnovers in the game and better shot selection, to outscore the Griffins 24-11 in the second quarter and take a 35-29 lead into the half.
MacEwan would challenge a bit to start the third quarter, but key shot making from Karstein and Jenna Bugiardini, with six points in the quarter, would see the Vikes extend their lead to 56-46 after three.
The Vikes would keep control of the game in the fourth and seven more points from Karstein closed out an 11-8 frame and the 67-54 win for the Vikes.
“We missed a couple early shots but MacEwan got off to a great start,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “I was proud that our girls didn’t become deflated by that, we’ve talked about wanting to be better defensively and MacEwan got off to a good start, but we settled in and were able to get some stops.”
In addition to Karstein’s 20 points and eight rebounds, which led all scorers, the Vikes received 14 points from Bugiardini and 11 from Jenna Krug, while Kristy Gallagher chipped in nine.
For the Griffins, Kendall Lydon led the way with 12 points, while Brielle Wise and Kerilynn Maclennan each had eight in the losing effort.
The Vikes came into the weekend as the No. 6 seed in the Canada West playoffs. The Griffins, with their record of 7-13, hold the 11th seed. The Vikes win was their third of the season over the Griffins, having swept them in a pair of games played in Edmonton back in the middle of November – 68-61 and 74-52.
Should the Vikes earn a fourth win over MacEwan, either Saturday night or Sunday, they will head out on the road next weekend to face the No. 3 seed Winnipeg Wesmen in the next round of playoff action.
“We have a lot of experienced players who have been in these series before and we know how quickly things chance and momentum shifts,” said Sinclair. “We have to take it one quarter at a time and go from there to hopefully close it out tomorrow night.”
Game Notes: The Griffins outshot the Vikes from the field 40.9% to 37.5% and out-rebounded the Vikes 32-31. The Vikes Men were also in action Friday night in Lethbridge and dropped a 97-85 decision to the Pronghorns in their opening playoff game.