By Scott Strasser, February 12 2015 —
Despite a valiant last-minute push in front of more than 800 fans, the Dinos women’s basketball team fell 55–51 to the visiting University of Alberta Pandas on Feb. 5 at Pack the Jack.
The Dinos were in front for much of the game before a slow fourth quarter allowed the Pandas to pull ahead and steal the win.
The loss puts the Dinos at 9–9, keeping them in seventh place in the Pioneer division.
“I can’t be too angry. We’re making the growth we’ve asked to see,” said Dinos head coach Damian Jennings. “It was a really improved performance on our part. This was a 33-point loss at their place in December. To get into an end game with them was the ambition.”
Fourth-year guard Kristie Shiels was the Dinos’ main offensive threat, equaling her season high of 13 points.
The Pandas were led by fifth-year guard Saskia VanGinhoven, who also finished with 13 points.
The first quarter started with a bang. Fourth-year guard Claire Colborne hit a three pointer for the Dinos less than ten seconds after tip-off.
From there, it was a back and forth affair. Both teams hit jump shots and three pointers, but missed layups. Colborne made a three-point play to finish with six points in the first quarter.
The Dinos shot 50 per cent from the three-point line, finishing the first quarter with a 15–13 lead.
The Pandas went ahead early in the second quarter, going on a 7–0 run to pull ahead 20–15. The Dinos responded with their own run of six to lead 21–20. Dinos first-year point guard Anmol Mattu finished the half with a slick buzzer-beater to tie the game at 25.
Both teams got off to a slow start in the third, but the scoring picked up. The Dinos went on an 8–0 run to pull ahead 38–31. The Pandas answered back with five straight points to make it 38–36.
The crowd started to grow in the third quarter, as students piled into the Jack for the men’s game. Inspired by the extra support, the Dinos finished the quarter with a 45–38 lead.
“We definitely felt the energy. It feels like you’ve got a sixth man,” Jennings said.
But the Dinos offence stalled in the final frame, not sinking any baskets until 6:22 into the fourth quarter. The Pandas took advantage, tying the game 45–45.
The Dinos finally got back on the board, but Pandas fifth-year forward Kendra Asleson and VanGinhoven pulled their team ahead by five points with just a minute and a half to play.
Urged on by the fans, the Dinos brought it back within two points as Shiels hit a three pointer with 36 seconds left.
But the Pandas knocked in one more basket in the final seconds to put the game to bed at 55–51.
Regardless of the loss, Jennings said his team showed promise against an older group of players.
“U of A is probably a final-eight team nationally, and we’re not there yet,” Jennings said. “But some of our first-and second-year players were making an impact against fifth years.”
With one weekend left of regular season play, the Dinos have already secured a spot in the Canada West playoffs.
The Dinos will travel to the University of Saskatchewan on Feb. 14–15 to take on the Huskies in a pair of back-to-back games.