The University of Victoria Vikes seized the first game of a crucial weekend series with the 67-59 victory over the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack on Friday night at the CARSA Performance Gym.
The WolfPack (7-8) came out hunting shots in the paint. They took an early lead by outscoring the Vikes 10-2 down low, despite running out a shorter roster.
Brooklyn Golt got going in the paint early for the ‘Pack by backing down Marissa Dheensaw a few times for six quick points.
Golt’s frontcourt partner, Jordan Robb, led the ‘Pack with seven points in the first half on six shots, many of which came from the interior.
The Vikes (8-7) began to tighten up the paint and use their length to disrupt the WolfPack. Tana Pankratz blocked a pair, while Dheensaw and Ashlyn Day each turned one away in the first half. The Vikes only allowed nine points in the second quarter.
Building off those defensive stops, Pankratz splashed a pair of threes in the first half to ignite the Vikes attack.
Dheensaw also started knocking in baseline jumpers for the Vikes. Those makes, plus an old-fashioned three-point play and a five-minute dry stretch by the WolfPack in the second quarter pushed the Vikes out to a six-point lead at half. Dheensaw finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four points.
Keeping the WolfPack in it was fifth-year guard Leilani Carney, who went 4-for-7 in the third stanza for 11 of points. Carney was the best shooter from deep, as she canned 4-of-10 shots for her team-high 18 points. She also picked up five assists and three boards.
Back-to-back threes by Megan Rouault and Jordan Wilkinson for the Vikes tied it 55-55 early in the fourth.
Ashlyn Day, who entered the game as the Vikes leading scorer, went without a bucket in the first quarter and was held to four points at half. She took over in the second half, sparked by her defensive game with one block and three steals in the second half. On the offensive side, a pair of backdoor cuts and a pair of triples from the same spot on the floor got her rolling and contributed to her 20 points. She also led her squad with seven rebounds.
When Kristy Gallagher knocked down a jumper in the fourth, she broke the 1,000-point barrier for her Vikes career.
With the win, the Vikes ended a five-game losing streak.
The other 7-7 team entering tonight, the University of Manitoba Bison, lost 98-81 to the University of Regina Cougars.
The Vikes will wrap up the weekend set with the WolfPack tomorrow evening (5 p.m.) back at Ken and Kathy Shields. Tomorrow night’s game will also be the Shoot For The Cure Game, as part of a nationally wide fundraising campaign for breast cancer research.