VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes started their final home weekend off with the result they needed defeating the MacEwan Griffins 59-50 on Feb. 1 at the CARSA Performance Gym. The Vikes improve to an 11-8 record, while the Griffins fall to 6-13.
Fifth-year guard Amira Giannattasio put up 26 points to now sit just five points away from the 1,500 career-point mark and just 35 points away from Vikes alumna Luanne Krawetz (Hebb) who is third in Vikes all-time scoring (1,530). Aleah Ashlee had nine points, while Ashlyn Day put up eight points and six rebounds.
“MacEwan is known to be a physical, tough defensive team and we kind of knew what we were going to see and they forced us to take some tough shots,” said Vikes head coach, Dani Sinclair. “We sort of did what needed to do but we didn’t finish the game well. We relaxed a little bit and turned the ball over too much.”
For the Griffins it was all in the hands of fifth year guard Kayla Ivicak who had 26 points and 10 rebounds in 39 minutes played. From there the scoring was spread as Mady Chamberlin had seven points and Mackenzie Farmer and senior Kristen Monfort-Palomino each had six.
“I was really impressed with our defensive effort tonight,” said Griffins head coach Katherine Adams. “We held a team that averages in the high 70’s in points to just 59 today. We knew coming into the game that we needed to play solid defence if we wanted to give ourselves a chance to win. That being said, they also defended us tough tonight. We got one part of the job done and but unfortunately our shooting percentage let us down.”
The Vikes got off on the right start as Giannattasio came out of the gate to score a quick six points to send the home side in to a 17-7 lead at the first break. Edmonton native Ivicak had 11 of her team’s points, while both teams were equally handing out turnovers.
In the second quarter the Griffins started to close the gap, being out-scored 13-11. The Vikes had some scoring by committee in the second as Day drained a few key layups, while Katie Langdon was using her six-foot-one stature under the hoop to pick up some key offensive rebounds and two buckets. Griffin fourth year Monfort-Palomino drained a three pointer in the final minute of the quarter to leave the Griffins down 30-18 at half time.
Starting the third Ivicak got the Griffins on the board to cut the Vikes’ lead to 10. Calli McMillan was able to put in a jumper to get the Vikes back on a roll. Giannattasio scored a bucket and three from the line to give the Vikes a 5-0 run but MacEwan responded through Ivicak. The Vikes continued to advance their lead despite some sloppy play. A bucket from each of Darian Mahmi and Chamberlin got the Griffins back within 13 as they trailed 42-29 entering the fourth.
Ivicak went solo between a static Vikes defence to open the fourth and she saw her left-hand layup fall to get the Griffins within 11, down 42-31. Some messy play on both sides made for a chippy fourth quarter. Giannattasio hit the first three of the night to keep the Vikes ahead 51-34 but the Griffins couldn’t seem to find the same vibe from beyond the arc. Finally, Giannattasio seemed to get back to her early rhythm, draining a second three, unanswered, and a layup as the Vike led by 17, up 57-40.
Giannattasio subbed off with under three minutes to go after securing 26 points, giving way for first years Hannah Walline and Roza Kalashnikoff to get some minutes. MacEwan’s Farmer and Ivicak continued to run the floor for the visitors as Ivicak did more than half of the Griffin’s damage. Chamberlin drained a shot from beyond the arc with under a minute to go to keep the game within 10.
Giannattasio’s 26 was enough to give the end of the Vikes the win they needed to improve to 11-8 with a final score of 59-50. The Griffins drop to 6-13, while records and RPI rankings make it difficult to show the clear playoff picture.
“We usually score a lot more than that but we only gave up 50 so if we can rely on our defence then that’s okay,” added Sinclair. “I think we need more balanced attack offensively and sometimes we get caught up in doing what we are told and not just playing basketball. We played really well defensively in a lot of ways, better than we have been. We showed well we just didn’t shoot the ball well.”
The Vikes and Griffins will rematch tomorrow, Feb. 2, at 5:00 p.m. for the Vikes’ final regular season games and the end of regular season play for graduating seniors Paige Thomson and Giannattasio. It will also be the end of the season for Griffins seniors Ivicak, Monfort-Palomino and Anna Mbuyi.
GMU: 7-11-11-21 : 50
VIC: 17-13-12-17 : 59