Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
March 9, 2017, Vicotria, BC (ISN) – Oh the upset it could have been. The #8 seeded Victoria Vikes took a 37-30 lead into the half, only to see the #1 seeded Carleton Ravens storm back for a 77-66 victory Thursday night in quarter-final action at the U Sports Women’s National Basketball Championships being played at the CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria.
With the teams playing in front of a near capacity crowd at CARSA, things began as most expected Thursday, with the favoured Ravens jumping out to 6-0 and 15-6 leads, en route to a 22-16 lead at the end of one quarter.
The Vikes would then begin to feed off the energy of their boisterous supporters and thanks to a 12-point half from Kristy Gallagher, begin to take it to the Ravens, outscoring them 21-8 in the second quarter and taking a seven point lead into the intermission.
If ever there was a rule that would allow a team to defer the half-time break, the Vikes would have used it Thursday, as that break proved extremely untimely for them. Shooting 57% to the Ravens 20% in the second quarter and having the tournament favourites on the ropes, the tables turned rapidly in the third, as the Ravens came out shooting 53% to the Vikes lowly 14% (just two of 14 field goal attempts made), taking the lead back, 41-40, with 4:23 to go in the frame and outscoring the Vikes 23-7 overall to hold a 53-44 lead at the third quarter break.
Try as they might to recover, pulling to within three at 55-52 with 7:27 to go and trailing by just five, 63-58 with just under three minutes to play, the Vikes simply could not find a way to overcome that deficit down the stretch, eventually falling by that 11-point margin.
“We got into halftime and I just told the kids that we weren’t playing very well and that we were fortunate to be in the game,” said Carleton head coach Taffy Charles. “We knew that if we went back to playing how we can play, we would have a chance. I’m proud of the girls, because it’s always hard to win. Victoria had a great crowd and it was a tough game.”
The Ravens had four players in double figures on the evening, including Catherine Traer, whose 23 points led all scorers. Elizabeth Leblanc, with 16, Stephanie Carr, with 12, and Heather Lindsay with 11, were the other three hitting double digits for Carleton on the night.
Leblanc, with her 16 points, was named the Player of the Game for Carleton. She was five-for-six from the free throw line and added three rebounds.
The Vikes also had four players in double figures, including fifth-year guard Jenna Krug with 18, Gallagher, who finished with 14, Nicole Karstein with 13 and Jenna Bugiardini with 10.
Both teams finished an identical 42.6% from the field, with Carleton topping the Vikes at the free throw line 83% to 65%.
“It was really special for [graduating seniors] Jenna Krug, Jenna Bugiardini and Nicole Karstein considering everything they have put into this program,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “For them to have the opportunity to go out like this, on this weekend, is just amazing. Our crowd was incredible. It obviously hurts to lose, but the crowd is one of the things our girls will never forget.”
The Ravens now move on to play the McGill Martlets in Saturday’s second semi-final at 4:00 pm. The first semi-final sees Queen’s take on Laval at 2:00 pm.
The Vikes now move into the Consolation round and they will take on the Regina Cougars at 8:00 pm Friday evening. The earlier game Friday will see Cape Breton take on Saskatchewan at 6:00 pm.
Friday, March 10
6:00 p.m. Consolation 1: Cape Breton vs. Saskatchewan (USPORTS.LIVE)
8:00 p.m. Consolation 2: Regina vs. Victoria (USPORTS.LIVE)
Saturday, March 11
2:00 p.m. Semifinal 1: Queen’s vs. Laval (Sportsnet 360/SN Now)
4:00 p.m. Semifinal 2: McGill vs. Carleton (Sportsnet 360/SN Now)
7:00 p.m. 5th-place game (USPORTS.LIVE)
Sunday, March 12
10:00 a.m. Bronze (USPORTS.LIVE)
1:00 p.m. Final (Sportsnet 360/SN Now)