PRINCE GEORGE -- The University of Northern British Columbia’s women’s basketball team knew they had to take care of their own end of the court against a dangerous Mount Royal Cougars squad. The Timberwolves did just that, holding the visiting Cougars to just 24 points in each half on the way to a 70-48 victory Friday night at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.
A gritty first quarter had the game scoreless until the 5:49 mark, when Vasiliki Louka opened the scoring for the Timberwolves. From there, guard Stacey Graham provided much of the UNBC offence in the quarter, going two-for-two from beyond the arc. After 10 minutes, the T-Wolves held an 11-4 advantage.
Mount Royal made offensive adjustments heading into the second quarter, scoring 20 points, fuelled by Marina Kehrig’s seven. The Timberwolves’ focus on MRU leading-scorer Becky Nash was evident, holding the six-foot-four post to just two points in the half. She would finish the game with four points. Heading into the second half, Sergey Shchepotkin’s squad led 26-24.
“We tried to not let her (Nash) touch the ball,” said Graham. “We focused on setting up in front of her and trying to prevent her from getting the ball.. “We tried to immediately double-team her when she did get it.”
Defence continued to be the name of the game in quarter three, as the Timberwolves increased their intensity around their own hoop. Back-to-back three-pointers by Madison Landry and Maria Mongomo pushed the Timberwolves to 12-0 run late in the quarter. UNBC held a 46-32 advantage with one quarter to play.
Graham, a fifth-year guard, started the fourth on fire from beyond the arc, making back to back three’s to stretch the Timberwolves’ advantage to 18. UNBC held the Cougars to 12 points in the quarter on their way to a 70-48 decision.
Mount Royal coach Nathan McKibbon said the Timberwolves’ physical play was the difference.
“They played the way the game was being called, and that was exceptionally physical,” said McKibbon. “We obviously have to find a way to respond in kind. That’s an awfully big team. They focus on their posts. We got good shots early, but just didn’t make them.”
Graham continued to her torrid pace, scoring 15 points off the bench for her fifth consecutive game with output in the double figures. All her offence came on three-pointers, but she gave credit to her team.
“My teammates are finding me with the ball,” she said. “It’s feeling really good. I’ve worked hard to put myself in this position. It feels really great to see my accomplishments."
The win improves UNBC’s record to 4-9, while Mount Royal falls to 2-9. The rematch is set for Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Northern Sport Centre. Tip-off is 5 p.m. PST.