Kelowna, B.C. - The Heat women's basketball team played their best game of the season on Friday night in Kelowna, nearly upending the nationally ranked Alberta Pandas but a untimely scoring drought has UBCO falling by a final score of 67-60.
Coming into the game 0-4, Claire Meadows had her team playing exceptional for the first 37 minutes but were unable to pull off the upset with scoring woes in the final minutes. The Heat would lead 60-56 with 2:45 left in the game but would go cold and not score the rest of the game. The Pandas came into the game at 3-1 and are ranked #8 in the country, which was the first nationally ranked team the Heat have played so far. These two teams will face-off again tomorrow night in the UBC Okanagan gym with tip-off at 5 p.m.
With the win Alberta advances their record to 4-1 while the Heat fall to 0-5.
The two teams would go blow for blow in the first half with UBC Okanagan smelling an upset with each passing minute. The visiting Pandas led at the end of a turnover-filled first quarter 19-14. The second frame again was very tight and saw UBCO eventually taking the lead 27-26 on a Shenelle Tamminen 3-pointer. This lead would only last a few seconds as Brianna Carlyon made a layup just seconds later to give the Pandas a 28-27 edge going into halftime. Emma Kary provided much of the offense in the first half for U of A as she had a game-high 14 points a the break.
The third quarter changed very little, as the two teams would each score 15 points in the third frame which would leave the Pandas with a 43-42 lead going into a pressure-packed fourth quarter. The deciding factor in the fourth would be the play of Elle Hendershot, who was a tough matchup on the glass and in the paint. Hendershot would get an early 3-point play in the fourth to increase the lead to four and the hometown Heat would not take the lead again till Emma Johnson made a free-throw with six minutes to go to make the score 52-51.
The turning point would come with the Heat up 60-56 with just over two minutes left on the clock. Megan Tywoniuk would hit a three to cut the lead to one and this was followed by a layup by Hendershot to retake the lead at 61-60 and this would be the last lead change of the game as the score would finish 67-60.
- The rebounding margin was one of the keys going into the game and would prove to be pivotal. The Heat out rebounded the Pandas in the first half 21-17 but the second half would be a much different story as the visitors would grab 31 second-half boards compared to just 18 for the Heat.
- Both teams would struggle from long-range as the Pandas were just 18% (4 of 22) while the Heat were slightly better at 20% (3 of 15). This was Alberta's worst three-point shooting performance of the season.
- Neither team was particularly efficient from the foul-line either, as the Heat would shoot 52% (11 of 21) while the Pandas shot 56% (15 of 27)
Note-worthy individual performances:
- The Heat would have four players in double-figures led by Emma Johnson who had a season-high 15 points along with a team-high 10 rebounds.
- Senior guard Vanessa Botteselle would be very efficient as she had 13 points on only six shots. Botteselle would also have four rebounds, three steals, and three assists.
- The visitors were led by an outstanding performance from Elle Hendershot who had 19 points along with a game high 23 rebounds. Emma Cary would cool down a little bit in the second half but would still finish with a game-high 20 points
These two will play again on Saturday in Kelowna to wrap up the two-game series. Tip-off will be at 5 p.m. PST and you can catch the action on canadawest.tv.
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat sports information