Late Vikes rally comes up short in series-opening loss to Winnipeg

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A dominating third quarter lifted the University of Winnipeg Wesmen to an 82-70 victory over the University of Victoria Vikes in game one of a Canada West Women’s Basketball Quarter-Final series Thursday evening at the Dr. David F. Anderson Gymnasium in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg exploded for 25 points and held the Vikes to only 12 in the frame to open up a 65-48 lead after 30 minutes.

“I felt that we kind of got away from the game plan in the third quarter and Winnipeg is going to be all over you to try and force turnovers, we played right into their hands,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “Rebounding was a key factor, they got 15 offensive boards.”

Faith Hezekiah led the Wesmen with a game high 23 points and was strong on the boards finishing with nine rebounds. Antoinette Miller finished with a double-double, 17 points and 10 rebounds. Megan Noonan also scored 17 followed by Lena Wenke with 14.

Kristy Gallagher was the top scorer for Victoria finishing the game with 20 points. Amira Giannattasio had 18 with six-three pointers. Jenna Bugiardini also scored in double digits finishing with 15.

Winnipeg came out of the gate on a quick note building a 6-1 lead early on. The Vikes responded with seven unanswered points to take the lead at 8-6. The teams exchanged points down the stretch as the Wesmen led 19-17 after the opening frame.

Gallagher gave the Vikes the lead back in the second quarter scoring eight straight points to put the visitors in the lead at 25-23. Winnipeg responded in a big way running off nine straight points, five by Wenke to take a 32-25 lead with 4:13 left. Gallagher scored six points down the stretch to cut the Wesmen lead to 40-36 at the halftime break.

“We have to understand how to attack and be aggressive to not be playing from behind the whole game,” said Sinclair. “In all three games we have played against them we have been forced to try and claw our way back into the game for the majority of the time.”

The Wesmen made a statement in the third quarter, outscoring the Vikes 15-3 in the opening 6:00 minutes to extend their lead to double-digits. Winnipeg kept the pressure on Victoria scoring 25 points in the quarter to carry a 65-48 lead into the fourth quarter.

Victoria made the game interesting in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Wesmen 10-4 to cut the deficit to 69-58. A three-pointer by Bugiardini with over a minute left cut the Wesmen lead to 72-68. The Wesmen did not fold and converted their free throws down the stretch to preserve the 82-70 victory.

“That sort of describes us as a whole, we fight back to four but then we end up losing by 12,” said Sinclair. “You can’t go three-quarters of the way or 90 per cent. In order for us to beat this team we have to be at 100 per cent for 40 minutes.”

“There is no time to take breaks on the court and hopefully we learned that lesson tonight.”

Game two of the best of three series will be played Friday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. If a game three is necessary it will be played Saturday afternoon at 11:30 a.m.

SCORING SUMMARY
UVIC: 17-19-12-22: 70
WPG: 19-21-25-17: 82

SCORING LEADERS
UVICKristy Gallagher (20), Amira Giannattasio (18), Jenna Bugiardini (15)
WPG: Faith Hezekiah (23), Antoinette Miller (17), Megan Noonan (17)

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