EDMONTON – Going a perfect nine-for-nine from the charity stripe, including the game-winner with 1:12 left in the game, team-leading scorer Kristy Gallagher had a game-high 27 points, her University of Victoria Vikes eking out a 63-61 win against the No.10 University of Alberta Pandas, Dec. 1 at Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton.
The Saanichton, B.C. native netted her sixth 20-point performance of the year while fourth-year forward Amira Giannattasio cracked double digits with 11 points and third-year forward Katie Langdon came just short of a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.
In Alberta’s fourth-straight loss at home, third-year guard Megan Tywoniuk tallied a team-high 18 points, third-year guard Vanessa Wild putting up 14 as sophomore guard Emma Kary notched 10. Conference leader in rebounds, Elle Hendershot, added another 18 on the night, falling just short of a double-double with eight points.
“It was an ugly one, for sure, from both sides” said Dani Sinclair, Vikes women’s basketball head coach. “It could have gone either way. There were some close calls on both sides down the stretch but I’m proud of our girls with the way they battled throughout.”
After a slow start to the game, featuring only five points in the opening four minutes, the Vikes put together a short 6-0 run to get ahead but the Pandas surged to close in on the lead, Wild stealing a Victoria pass on her own end before going in for a layup off the glass.
The Vikes managed to maintain the lead, however, and continued to do so for the rest of the half, both teams struggling in the second quarter as the visitors only made 25 per cent of their shots and the Pandas were unable to succeed on five attempts from long distance. Still, Alberta was able to pull back within one to only be down 27-26 at halftime.
Getting the opening basket in the third quarter, albeit after two minutes of continued shooting difficulties by both teams, the Pandas reclaimed the lead for the first time since the opening minutes, but the rest of the game featured 11 more lead changes, so the game was anything but decided.
With two-and-a-half minutes remaining, Wild scored another layup to reduce the Alberta deficit to one, but unfortunately missed her next chance, despite a clear lane to the basket.
A Gallagher foul put Tywoniuk at the stripe, though, the Edmonton native sinking both to put the Pandas up 61-60 with 1:32 left to play.
Yet Gallagher replied by driving towards the hoop and drawing a Panda foul, draining her two shots with 1:12 on the clock.
With 52 seconds left, Wild missed a trey at the shoulder, third-year forward Marissa Dheensawmaking good on one of her two free throws to put the Vikes up by two.
Wild and Dheensaw both earned another chance to change the game from the charity stripe, but four missed attempts later, Alberta had 6.8 seconds left to tie or win the game.
With two seconds left, Tywoniuk attempted an off-kilter Hail Mary shot from half-court, bouncing off the top of the backboard straight to senior forward Brianna Carlyon who had a Vike defender on her instantly, making a buzzer-beater shot impossible.