In their first close battle at home since before Winter Break, the Women’s Basketball team beat the visiting UNBC Timberwolves 88-78. Ashley Briker was named the Landmark Cinemas/East Side Mario’s Player of the Game with 20 points (including 4/9 from beyond the arc), 5 assists and 5 steals.
The Heat started out on a 7-0 run to open the first quarter, but the Wolves quickly fought themselves back into the game, staying neck and neck with their opposition to end the 1st 24-20. Both teams played very coordinated trap defenses that turned into 8 steals apiece in the first half alone, creating a lot of exciting fast-break opportunities in the 1st half. During the second quarter the Heat pulled away to a 41-30 lead, but then the Timberwolves went on a 12-0 run to put the score at 42-41 with under 30 seconds left in the half. Ashley Briker then hit a long 3-pointer to keep the Heat ahead of UNBC. The Heat turned the ball over more than the Timberwolves (15-13) but shot a stellar 51.6% from the field, keeping them up 44-42 heading into the half.
Coming out of the half was a different game, however, as the Heat began to build their lead that they never again relinquished. The Wolves never gave up fighting though, consistently staying within 8-10 points throughout the second half. Their bench helped keep them within reach, outscoring the Heat 34-11 throughout the game. The Heat were red-hot all game long, improving their first-half FG% to 52.5% for the game, including 18 points from downtown on 6/19 shooting.
With the clock winding down the last minute of play, Coach Heather Semeniuk called a timeout with the Heat up by 6. Even if the Heat won the game, they needed at least 8 points to secure the tie-breaker over the then 3rd seed Timberwolves. “She basically told us [during the timeout] that we need to score,” noted Laura Campbell. Melissa Irish answered the call, playing an instrumental role in the last two baskets of the game, assisting the first and scoring the second to put the Heat up 10 points as the clock expired, putting them into the 3rd spot in the league standings.
“This win was huge,” Campbell also said. She admitted that UNBC is definitely a rival team they always get excited to play. “We’re glad to get a tough game like [tonight] out of the way.” The Heat are slated to play a weaker Quest team in their last league games of the season, hoping to cement their 3rd seed heading into Playoffs.
Senior guard Jenna Kantz also made history tonight in the 1st quarter when she scored her 788th career point, passing Mandy Trenholm (currently the team’s Assistant Coach) for the team’s all-time scoring leader. Kantz went on to finish the game with a game-high 27 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
Kantz is one of only two graduating athletes for all Heat Athletics programs (Caitlin Nyhus of Women’s Volleyball being the other) and will be playing the last Home games of her BCCAA career next weekend when the Heat face off against Quest next weekend.