WINNIPEG – The University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team were squeezed out a 77-76 victory on the road against Winnipeg to open their Canada season. The Wesmen were left lamenting a slow start while the Vikes were thankful a slow-footed finish didn’t do them in Friday night at the Duckworth Centre.

Victoria (1-0) got 25 points off the bench from Ashlyn Day and took a 44-31 lead into halftime, buoyed by a quick 8-2 run in the middle of the second quarter that allowed the Vikes to stretch their lead to double digits.

Victoria put four players in double figures with Calli McMillan, Amira Giannattasio and Aleah Ashlee each scoring 11 points.

Winnipeg’s Faith Hezekiah had a game-high 32 points but watched a potential game-winning, buzzer-beating lay-up roll off the rim as time expired as the Wesmen women’s basketball team open their season 0-1.

“(Winnipeg) played with more intensity and togetherness in the second half and we did more in the first half,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “It just sort of could have gone either way at the end of it.”

Hezekiah added 10 rebounds, but the Wesmen lost that battle 42-32 as a team.

Farrah Castillo, the U of W’s new starting point guard, had 19 points — 13 after halftime — six assists and five rebounds in her Canada West debut. Jessica Dyck added 15.
The Wesmen shot 20 of 22 from the free-throw line, but just 2 of 18 from three. Victoria went 16-for-20 and 7-for-27.

Winnipeg never led, but the Wesmen were right on the doorstep. After Hezekiah made a lay-up with seven seconds left to cut the lead to one, second-year guard Jessica Dyck forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play and the ball eventually found its way to Hezekiah under the hoop. She got the shot up and on the rim but it slowly rolled off and the Vikes escaped.

“I think we started to settle for some shots on the outside and (Winnipeg) did a nice job of taking away the interior,” added Sinclair. “I thought in the first half we went inside-out a little bit better. I think we can’t rely on heaven to hit three all night, for sure.”

The two teams meet again tomorrow, Oct. 27, in a 7 p.m. CT tip off. The Vikes will then return back to B.C. for a home-and-home series against UBC on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3.