*Story and photos my Alex Rodgerson ISN*
VANCOUVER — With the UBC Womens Basketball team getting set to begin their 2018-2019 regular season in just a few weeks time, the Thunderbirds took on China’s Under-18 National team in exhibition action on Thursday night at UBC. While the game would remain close for the first two quarters, the Chinese U-18’s would pull away in the third quarter, capitalizing on defensive breakdowns by UBC. The Thunderbirds would also struggle to find any open lanes offensively against an extremely active Chinese defense, that limited UBC to a mere one for nine from beyond the arc.
Early in the first quarter the T-Birds would take control as UBC power forward Keylyn Filewich would connect on back-to-back field goals, giving the Chinese fits with her physicality early in the game. Midway through the frame the Chinese would respond, with Kun Huang turning the momentum with a couple of steals, before going baseline to tie the game 15-15. China would continue their strong play late in the quarter and finish on a 9-3 run.
With China leading 24-18 to start the second quarter UBC would bring the game to within two before the Chinese offense would take over again, connecting on several fast breaks to put them up by six midway through the quarter. Keylyn Filewich would continue to dominate in the paint for UBC, but the T-Birds would struggle getting clear shots from the field against a fast transitioning Chinese team. Bingzhen Li was Team China’s best player in the second quarter, helping extend the Chinese lead to eight to end the half.
Both teams would struggle from the field to start the third quarter when UBC’s Kate Johnson would drop a pair of buckets to bring UBC within striking distance. However, a lapse in coverage would then allow Li to be left wide open for her second three-pointer of the night, restoring China’s lead. With the quarter winding down Team China would pull away from the T-Birds, dismantling UBC from beyond the arc and taking advantage of a plethora of open lanes to the basket. UBC would be unable to match the tempo of the Chinese U-18s, and trail by twenty points heading into the final frame.
Team China would finally find a match-up for Keylyn Filewich to start the fourth quarter, matching her up against massive forward Jiajin Yu. Yu would successfully slow down UBC’s offensive rebounding as the Chinese would push their lead to 25 midway through the final quarter. The T-Birds would also struggle with their defensive rebounding in the final quarter, allowing several second opportunities for the Chinese National team who would extend their lead 80-56 heading down the home stretch.
Marcie Schlick would enter the game and give the T-Birds some much needed energy with a hard foul on China’s Mingling Chen, who to that point had been having an easy time collecting rebounds in the paint. Schlick would continue to play a strong game for the T-Birds down the stretch but it wouldn’t be enough, as Team China would go on to defeat UBC by a final of 80-60.
Winnipeg product Keylyn Filewich would end the night as the T-Birds most effective shooter, going 9 for 11 from the field for a game-high 21 points while also snagging nine rebounds. Kate Johnson also had herself a strong night offensively for UBC, going 4 for 4 from the field while adding three assists. However, she would also turn the ball over a game-high seven times.
Third-year guard Maddison Penn struggled from the field going 6 for 15, and managed only sixteen points on the night despite her last season average of 29 points per game. Vancouver’s own Jess Hanson also struggled, going one for nine from the field to go along with five turnovers.
For China, Bingzhen Li led the well-balanced offense going six for eight from the field, while adding five assists and four steals. She also played a game-high 40 minutes while Yuyan Li led the Chinese with fifteen points.
UBC will now head east to take on York University, Toronto and McMaster before returning home to take on Fraser Valley on October 4th.