The UBC women’s basketball team finished off their last two regular season games of the 2012 calendar year in style, beating both the Calgary Dinos and Lethbridge Pronghorns handily at War Memorial Gym this past weekend. The Thunderbirds improve to 7-3 in Canada West play, thanks to their wins of 70-58 over the Dinos and 74-57 over the Pronghorns. They currently sit tied for second in the Canada West Pacific division.
Friday’s matchup with the then-undefeated 8-0 Dinos was a test for the T-Birds, who fell out of the CIS top 10 rankings last week after dropping three straight contests. But despite turning the ball over a season-high 28 times, the ‘Birds got a win — in large part due to a strong 21-point and 10-rebound game out of fifth-year Leigh Stansfield.
“I think, because my teammates trust me and they’re pounding the ball inside, I’m getting a lot of really nice looks and that’s helping my confidence a lot,” said Stansfield. A torrid three-point shooting night by the T-Birds helped force the defence outside of the paint for Stansfield’s benefit, allowing her to go to work. The team shot 8-15 from beyond the three-point arc, compared to the Dinos, who went 1-14.
Third-year standout guard Kris Young was the other Thunderbird in double figures on the night, totalling 18 points to go along with nine rebounds. The ‘Birds as a team out-rebounded the Dinos by 19, partly due to the Dinos missing 64 per cent of their shots. “We wanted to make sure we won the rebounding margin,” said UBC head coach Deb Huband. “That was one of our keys to the game.”
Saturday’s game against the Pronghorns started off slowly for the T-Birds, who trailed after the first quarter, 20-19. However, a stifling defensive effort for the rest of the game and a 15-3 run to start the second quarter allowed the home side to take control; the Pronghorns were held to just 37 points for the remainder of the game.
“I think we were able to learn a lot about them, with what they were doing in the first quarter, and we were able to make some adjustments defensively, and that was the big thing,” said Huband.
Despite winning by 17 points, Young, the team’s leading scorer, played all but three minutes in the game. It may have been due to how close she came to recording a triple double for the game; Young totalled 22 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. The numbers come as no surprise, as Young has been the team’s offensive and mental leader from the get-go. The T-Birds have relied heavily on her this year due to the youth of the team as a whole, and Young has stepped into her role with confidence.
“I think my teammates have more confidence in giving me the ball,” said Young. “So they get me opportunities to score and I couldn’t get those without them. With their confidence, I play more confident and do better.”
The women’s basketball team doesn’t play a Canada West game again until Jan. 11, when they take on Manitoba. However, they have a Christmas tournament in Calgary, with three exhibition games starting on Dec. 28. They’ll face McMaster first, and then battle the Dinos and Pronghorns again.