PRINGE GEORGE, B.C. – The UBC Okanagan Heat women's basketball team got their 2018 portion of the season underway on Friday night in Prince George against the UNBC Timberwolves. Still searching for their first win of the campaign, the Heat were unable to jump out ahead early on. The deficit for the visitors grew throughout the game, as the Heat's shooting was constantly disrupted by UNBC, while UBCO's defence couldn't shut down the Timberwolves' offence. Down double-digits at half-time, a rough third quarter had the Heat being doubled-up by the Timberwolves, and the gap was too large to close in the fourth.
Shooting consistency and turnovers were the biggest issues for the Heat in the game, as they turned the ball over 24 times and were unable to find their shot. Despite making a quarter of their shots from beyond the arc, UBCO was unable to match UNBC from the floor.
The Timberwolves got the scoring started on their home court Friday night, pulling ahead 6-0 before the Heat scored their first basket around the six-minute mark. A three-pointer from Emma Jonas got the Heat on the board at 6:05 and cut that lead in half, but UNBC hit double-digits up seven points after a pair of jump shots put them ahead 10-3 with four minutes left in the opener. The next points for the Heat came on another three, this time from Lindsey Bott, but it wouldn't be enough to even it up before the second. Through ten minutes of play the Heat trailed 17-11, after scoring the final three points before the first buzzer on a pair of free throws made by Brianna Falk and another by Kate Johnson.
The Timberwolves kept the Heat off the board for the first two minutes of the second, pulling ahead 23-11 before Vanessa Botteselle made a pair of free throws. Jonas brought the deficit back under ten with a couple of shots from the charity stripe with six minutes left, but UNBC did most of the scoring from then on. Stretching the lead to 14 points with just under four minutes to play before the break, the home side was able to keep the Heat from scoring in the final two minutes and closed out the half ahead by 16, up 41-25.
The Timberwolves defence was on display in the third quarter, not allowing the Heat to net their first point of the second half until the 4:09 mark, when a free-throw by Jonas made it 52-26 for the home side. Back-to-back threes from Alina Shakirova put UNBC up 32, at 55-26, with 2:45 left in the quarter, and they allowed just four more Heat points before the buzzer. Heading into the final frame the home side had a sizeable 63-31 lead.
The Heat were on the board first in the final frame, with Botteselle making a pair of free-throws twenty seconds in. UNBC responded with a pair of their own twenty seconds later, and stretched their lead to 35 a minute later. Down by 33 was as close as the Heat would come from then on, as the consistency of the Timberwolves' scoring continued and they pulled even farther ahead as the fourth went on. The lead for the home side grew to 45 points with just over a minute to play, before the Heat scored the final three baskets of the game to make it 87-48 at the final buzzer.
Thoughts from fourth year Heat guard Vanessa Botteselle:
"We need to box out. That will solve those extra chances," said Heat guard Vanessa Botteselle. "When Louka gets driving, she is tough to stop, so help side defense is a must."
The third quarter essentially sealed the deal for the home side, as they outscored UBCO 22-6. The Heat shot just 30.6% from the field, but Botteselle suggests that's a positive for tomorrow's rematch.
"I thought we pushed well, and we had some good looks but they weren't falling. We are still growing with seven new players, but we are learning how everyone plays, but there are positives to learn from."
Kate Johnson was the highest scorer for the Heat on Friday night, putting up nine. She was followed by Vanessa Botteselle, with eight, while Brianna Falk and Emma Jonas each had seven. Johnson and Falk were also the Heat's assist leaders on the night.
For the home side it was Maria Mongomo leading the way in scoring, finishing with a game-high 27 points. Vasiliki Louka and Madison Landry rounded out the top three, with 19 and 12 respectively.
Mongomo and Louka also finished with a team-high 11 rebounds apiece, and Mongomo led the Timberwolves with five steals.
By the Numbers:
The Timberwolves had a decided advantage of the night shooting-wise, finishing ahead in field goal percentage (42.9% - 30.6%), three-point percentage (31.3% - 25%), and free-throw percentage (91.7% - 66.7%).
The home side also finished ahead in rebounds (40-25), assists (9-2), and steals (17-7). The biggest issue for the Heat on Friday night was turnovers, as they finished with 24 while the Timberwolves gave the ball up just 11 times.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (0-11) and the UNBC Timberwolves (5-8) will play again tomorrow night, with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m. in Prince George.
~ Grayson B. Leahy – Heat Sports Information; with notes from Rich Abney, UNBC Athletics