Vikes sweep Thunderbirds, end regular season with 12th-straight win

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(Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

VICTORIA – Amira Giannattasio scored 13 of her game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter, as the UVic Vikes women’s basketball team finished their 2017-18 Canada West regular season schedule with a bang; sweeping the UBC Thunderbirds and picking up their 12th win in a row in the process.

76 days now separate the Vikes from their last loss in Canada West action, after they battled off multiple pushes from the Thunderbirds late in the game to record the win in Vancouver, B.C. on Feb. 2.

“This is some of the best basketball I’ve been a part of at UVic in terms of team play,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “This group is pretty special in terms of how they play together, show resolve and are able to respond to challenges continually.”

“It’s just fun to be a part of and we want to continue this run for as long as possible.”

Giannattasio went five-of-eight from beyond the arc to finish with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Fellow fourth-year Kristy Gallagher joined Giannattasio atop the Vikes stat sheet with 17 points and five assists in what was a monumental win for the veteran leaders.

“You expect Amira to want the ball and I thought we did a great job of finding her,” said Sinclair. “There was a lot of emotion from Amira and Kristy. We’ve split games with UBC in the past couple of years but we haven’t actually won in this gym for a while and they wanted it badly. They willed us to victory at the end there.”

Jessica Hanson hit 10 of her 21 shot attempts to finish the game with a team-high 28 points for the T-Birds. Keylyn Filewich and Maddison Penn added 20 and 15 points respectively in the loss.

With their season now complete, all that’s left for the Vikes to do is sit and wait.

Their current record of 16-4 has them sitting in third-place in a Canada West conference where the top-four teams earn a bye to the second round of the playoffs. With post-season positioning being determined by a team’s RPI however, the Vikes will now monitor the scores of the final regular season games taking place across the conference tomorrow night to see where they will end up.

A 14-0 UBC run spanning the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter, erased what was an 11-point Vikes lead and put the Thunderbirds in front for the first time in the second half, by a score of 58-55.

“We became really tentative, we started passing up some shots when they put on that half-court zone press,” said Sinclair.

As they’ve done throughout this winning streak however, the Vikes refused to be rattled and answered back with a 13-2 run of their own, during which Giannattasio poured in 11 points.

“We loosened up a little when we were able to get a stop and then Amira and Kristy did their thing,” said Sinclair. “We also had some great ball movement down the stretch where we found the post inside too.”

With the lead re-established the Vikes were able to hold on for the remainder of the game, thanks to some solid defence and clutch free-throw shooting from Gallagher.

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