It was as though having one last-minute victory wasn’t enough to instill a sense of urgency for the UBC women’s basketball team in their home opener. The Thunderbirds made it interesting yet again on Saturday, and for the second consecutive game of their back-to-back series with Thompson Rivers University, the Thunderbirds just managed to slide past the Wolfpack to improve their conference record to 4-0.
“It was way more [intense] than it needed to be,” said fifth-year Leigh Stansfield after Friday’s win, where she contributed 16 points.
A last-minute push in Friday’s game saw the T-Birds claw back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 75-71. A barrage of Cassandra Knievel three-pointers helped spark the fourth quarter comeback and gave her a career high of 20 points.
Defensive lapses in the paint led to the T-Birds’ troubles early on throughout Friday’s contest. Despite being able to make several runs that seemed to be the start of UBC comebacks, the Wolfpack continued to get past the T-Birds’ interior defenders for easy layups.
“We weren’t really executing on defence,” said Stansfield. “[UBC head coach Deb Huband] kind of lit a fire under [us] at halftime.”
It certainly showed, as the T-Birds forced six Wolfpack turnovers in the final quarter. However, to continue to be successful, the team will have to get out to better starts; good teams will not allow them to come back.
“We’ve got to come out stronger,” said Knievel after Friday’s game. “We were not really moving the ball or working as a team on offence.”
Saturday’s contest also came right down to the wire. Kris Young added to her list of great games by totalling 22 points, 10 rebounds — seven of which were offensive — and six assists, all the while playing a key role in the final minute of a contest that was neck-and-neck.
While down 70-68, Young took the ball in what looked like the T-Birds’ final possession of the game, and with just 17 seconds to play, the third-year was able to hit a tough jump-shot to tie the game at 70 apiece.
TRU was given the final possession and a chance to split the weekend double-header. But with eight seconds left, the ’Birds forced a Wolfpack turnover and the ball ended up in Stansfield’s hands. She hit the tie-breaking shot with four seconds left, putting UBC up to the final score of 72-70.
After this weekend’s performances, UBC head coach Deb Huband will certainly be stressing defence to her young team. “It’s great to [get] the win, but it was a really ugly game,” Huband said after Saturday’s game. “I was hoping that after [Friday] night, we’d be able to get a little bit closer to where we’re going, but I think we just really struggled on the defensive end. We need to improve our defence; we can’t give up 70 points a game.”
The T-Birds will face the University of Fraser Valley Cascades this Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. at War Memorial Gym, before travelling to Saskatchewan and Alberta the following weekend.