VICTORIA – Amira Giannattasio scored 23 points in the first half and 36 overall to help lead the UVic Vikes women’s basketball to a 78-64 victory over the visiting UBC Okanagan Heat inside the CARSA Performance Gym on Oct. 28.

“She was hot, we were able to find her and we even missed her sometimes when she was going,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “She opened some stuff up for other people too but she can be pretty special when she’s on like that.”

Also playing a key role in the win was a Vikes defence that forced the Heat into making turnovers all game long. Third-year forward Marissa Dheensaw led the way on the defensive end, picking up seven steals in the first half and finishing the game with 15 points in her 35 minutes on the court.

“She is so versatile, she disrupts the ball a lot defensively and we need more people to do that,” said Sinclair.

Second-year guard Emma Jonas led the Heat in scoring on the night, recording 18 points while going a perfect eight-for-eight from the charity stripe. Jonas was a thorn in the side of the Vikes all night long, sometimes willing her team back into the game by herself.

Lindsey Bott and Shennelle Tamminen each chipped in offensively for the visitors with Bott scoring ten points and Tamminen nine.

A back-and-forth first quarter saw the teams exit the first frame with the Vikes leading by just three points as the Heat came out of the gates fast, looking to pick up their first win of the season.

“We are playing a bit too inconsistently right now, we show spurts where we play well but it’s not for forty minutes,” said Heat head coach Claire Meadows. “Last night we tied the last three quarters, tonight we won two quarters which is great for us because we are a young team, but if we want to compete we have to better and more consistent.”

After the Heat knocked down an early three-pointer to tie the game at 23, the Vikes went on an absolute tear in the middle of the second quarter, going on a 13-0 run and ending the half up 42-29.

The Heat stepped things up a notch coming out of the halftime break and were able to increase the pressure defensively to slow down the Vikes offence but couldn’t quite string together enough baskets in a row to cut the lead to single digits as the Vikes led 55-45 after three quarters of play.

“In some ways it was similar to last night,” said Sinclair. “We got that ten point buffer, increased it to twenty and then let them get back into the game. I take responsibly for some of that with subbing rotations but we have to be better to manage the game and finish out the game.”

A shot from Shenelle Tamminen would eventually cut the Vikes lead to just nine but that was as close as the Heat would come as the Vikes pulled away late in the fourth quarter en route to the 14 point win.

The Heat will get the chance to pick up their first win of the Canada West season when they return to Kelowna for a pair of games against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on Nov. 4 and 5.

The Vikes meanwhile will hit the road for the first time in their 2017-18 campaign next weekend as the team takes their 2-0 record to Brandon for a pair of games against the Bobcats on Nov. 3 and 4.