WINNIPEG – Rookie Jaeli Ibbetson made an instant impact but the Heat would fall in their season opener (82-69) on Friday night at Investors Group Athletic Centre in the season opener for both teams.
A (21-8) first quarter would give the Bisons an early advantage and they didn't look back, maintaining this 13-point edge for the remaining 30 minutes.
Ibbetson would finish with 20 points and 13 boards in her Heat debut, including 14 made free-throws. Senior Jordan Korol also chipped in, finishing just shy of a double-double herself with 13 points and nine boards.
UBCO drops to (0-1) with the defeat with the Bisons improve to (1-0). The two teams meet again tomorrow at 3 p.m. PT at Investors Group Athletic Centre and on canadawest.tv.
Aggressive defence was the name of the game for Manitoba, led by captain Keziah Brothers who demonstrated her versatility, playing anywhere from the 1-3 positions while totalling a game-high 25 points.
It was the Bisons that led (21-8) entering the second period though, thanks in large part to five steals, two of which came from impact rookie Lauren Bartlett. The hosts also recorded seven points off turnovers, with fourth-year guard Taylor Randall playing a massive role with six points and a steal.
Captain Keziah Brothers was unstoppable in the second for Manitoba, recording 13 points to lead all scorers as the Bisons went into the break up (46-30). The fourth-year guard shot 77-percent from the field and also made a three-pointer. Brothers and Bartlett were both menaces on the defensive end as well, forcing UBCO into some difficult takes.
Despite the score, the Heat finished the half strong, going on a (7-0) run late. Ibbetson led the way with three rebounds and seven points, all of which came from the free-throw line. Captain Jordan Korol also had six points and two rebounds as the visitors out-rebounded Manitoba (27-21) with excellent post-up positioning.
The Heat got into the bonus early in the third period, capitalizing with a number of points from inside the paint. Once again it was Ibbetson and Korol who led the charge as UBCO cut Manitoba's lead down to as little as ten.
Manitoba went small for the final minute or so, however, and it paid off with two quicks baskets courtesy of Randall and Bartlett as the Bisons entered the fourth up (60-46).
The Heat continued to make their money from the free-throw line, shooting in the bonus once again with five minutes still to play. Rookie guard Kelsey Falk chipped in with total six rebounds as UBCO played hard on the glass and got to within 12.
But the Bisons locked it down in the last three minutes, not allowing UBCO to ever cut the lead to single-digits.
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat Sports Information, with notes from Mike Still, Bison Sports