EDMONTON – Struggles in the first half for the No. 10 University of Alberta Pandas spelled defeat for the home team, unable to recover the early deficit and suffering a 66-58 loss to the visiting Victoria Vikes, Dec. 2 at Saville Community Sports Centre. The win lifts the Vikes to a 6-4 record ahead of the December break.
Fourth among career active point leaders, fourth-year Vike Amira Giannattasio scored a team-high 24 points alongside four rebounds and four assists. Third-year forward Katie Langdon recorded her first double-double in conference play with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kristy
Pandas scoring leader Emma Kary netted a team-high 19 points in the fifth-straight home loss, senior forward Elle Hendershot tallying 10 points and six rebounds while third-year guard Vanessa Wild put up nine points, six boards, and six assists.
The Vikes sunk two of their first three buckets in the opening frame, but both teams followed that with moribund shooting. Though the Pandas were able to briefly close their deficit, Victoria responded with an 8-0 run to build a 13-4 lead.
The Pandas were having moderate success inside the key, but for the second-straight night, had difficulty from three-point range, unable to drain a trey in the first quarter and only one each in every remaining frame.
Up 17-12 after the first quarter, the Vikes added six consecutive points to start the second while outrebounding the Pandas 13-7 as the home team shot at only 25% from the field.
Exemplifying the first-half woes, Alberta missed three straight long-distance shots before team-leading scorer Kristy Gallagher succeeded on a fade-away jumper just before the buzzer to put Victoria up by 10 as the teams went to the locker rooms.
Banking on the Pandas having a surge, the Vikes didn’t let up to start the third, opening with a 10-2 run, the sole bucket on the home side being Wild’s first of the night.
Just under four minutes left, Alberta started a 9-0 run to close the lead, but sophomore guard Calli McMillan halted it with a momentous trey.
Still, the Pandas persisted, Kary finishing the penultimate frame with a three-ball of her own at the shoulder, cutting the lead to seven to enter the final frame.
Unfortunately for Alberta, the visitors came out strong again, adding two more buckets to extend the lead back over double digits and while the Pandas pushed to erase the lead, Victoria made them pay on every foul, draining free throws to keep them ahead.
A Hendershot layup off an offensive rebound cut the lead to only six with less than 30 seconds left, but more charity stripe success by the road team put the game out of reach.
The Vikes will next host the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, Jan. 5-6, in the CARSA Performance Gym in Victoria. The team will have little rest though, as they will head to Toronto to play in the Varsity Blues’ Gold Ring Centre in the annual Holiday Hoops Tournament. The Vikes will face Concordia, hosts Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier from Dec. 28-30.