Amira Giannattasio

The University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team weathered a second-half storm put up by the visiting Trinity Western Spartans to nab a 77-71 win on Nov. 23 at the CARSA Performance Gym. Both teams are now even with a 6-3 record in the Canada West standings.

The Vikes were led in scoring by fifth year Amira Giannattasio who added 21 points, while Calli McMillan and Aleah Ashlee had 15 points. Katie Langdon led the floor defensively with a team-high 12 rebounds.

“In some respects, we got away from what was working for us,” said Dani Sinclair, head coach of the Vikes. “We got out competed in the first half and Trinity Western shot the ball really well. They got to all lose balls and they had two offensive rebounds in the first half and then 13 in the second. We got totally out played.”

Rookie Nicole Fransson and fourth-year Spartan Sarah Buckingham were the dynamic duo behind the spirited second-half effort from the visitors. Without the talents of Canada West All-Star Tessa Ratzlaff in the lineup, Fransson and Buckingham seemed unphased, combining for 45 of the Spartans’ 71 points. Fransson added 15 rebounds to her 25 points.

“I think Sarah has been fairly consistent throughout this entire season and really been assertive,” said Trinity Western head coach Cheryl Jean-Paul. “She kind of lost sight of that a little bit in the first half and I think Nicole is just continuing to find herself. There are things we saw from her today that we haven’t ever seen her do before. She is constantly surprising us with her ability to learn the game as quick as she can which is tough because we have been putting a lot of expectation on her.”

The Vikes came out with a comfortable first half out-scoring the Spartans 25-13 and 19-12 in the opening two quarters. Giannattasio was two-for-two from beyond the arc to finish the half with 12 points, while McMillan and Langdon had five and six rebounds, respectively. First year Fransson was the clear leader for the Spartans right off the get-go notching 10 points in the opening half, while the Spartans struggled with only two offensive boards. The Vikes led 44-25 at the half.

Trinity Western were a different team after the break, working their way back in to the game in the third quarter. The Spartans out-shot the Vikes 28-17 in the third to minimize the 19-point deficit from half time. Trinity Western’s Buckingham put up 10 points in the quarter as the Vikes struggled to handle an energized visiting side.

“I thought we showed up to play,” said Jean-Paul about the second-half turnaround. “There was no push back in the first half. We didn’t really show who we can be when it comes to our defensive efforts so I was just happy with the fact that they pushed back.”

The Spartans out-scored the Vikes 18-16 in the fourth. In the final two minutes Buckingham drained two three-pointers to get the Spartans down by six, 75-69. Vikes forward Ashlee’s layup gave the Vikes a cushion before none other than Fransson drained two buckets but time expired and the Vikes hung on to a 77-71 victory.

“They cut the game to six and I thought Calli made some big plays for us,” said Sinclair as a highlight. “She got some good steals and baskets so I thought she was really solid for us tonight. She’s doing a great job at that position and getting us organized.”