On the surface, it was a two-win weekend. If you looked deeper, though, there were dozens of smaller stories hidden in the Dinos women's basketball team's series against the University of Winnipeg.
Cathy Payne scored a last-ditch three-pointer to claim the win on Friday. Leighann Doan moved into fourth place on the Dinos all-time scoring list. Payne came up big again on Saturday, leading her team to a more convincing victory.
Friday's game was a close affair for most of the 40 minutes. Payne's trey with 16 seconds remaining, her lone basket of the game, gave the Dinos a 71-69 victory. Laura Jablonski led the Dinos with 17 points and eight rebounds. Doan followed with 16 points and six rebounds.
Erin Soroko, Doan's chief rival for the Canada West scoring title poured in 21 points for the Wesmen and added nine boards.
The Dinos played a more convincing brand of basketball on Saturday, leading for most of the game and finishing up 82-72. Payne scored 23 points followed by Doan's 19. Jablonski again pulled down eight rebounds, followed by Jill Bekar's seven.
"It was a great team effort," stated Payne, after the series. "We got the ball where we needed it. We got the open shots and knocked them down."
As for Payne's own effort, she agreed that Saturday's game was easily her best so far this year.
"I was relaxed and confident, and you can't ask for more than that."
Payne's 20-point turnaround between the two games was a microcosm of the Dinos' turnaround. Head coach Shawnee Harle attributed the second-game improvement to the Dinos' better knowledge of the heretofore foreign team.
"I don't think it was anything special that I said," Harle stated. "Friday was the first time they had ever played [Winnipeg] and their style was one we haven't seen before. It was more a matter of Friday we were playing an unknown and on Saturday we knew more what to expect."
Doan reached a milestone on the weekend, marking up 35 total points to reach 1260 for her career, good enough to pass Lisa Bacigalupi and move into fourth place on the Dinos' all-time scoring list.
"I didn't know where I stood," said Doan. "We don't see the game stats usually. It was just a marker along the way, though. The focus has to be on the team. The only way to reach goals is through the team."
Bacigalupi was in attendance for Saturday's game, and when the record was announced, she threw up her arms in mock frustration.
"[Bacigalupi] talked to me before the game," said Doan. "She said she wasn't coming on Friday, so I had to wait until Saturday. It was nice that she came to the game."
Doan is now 75 points behind Veronica Vanderschee for third place in school history. She'll move closer to that mark this weekend when the Dinos take on the University of Alberta Pandas. The last time the teams played a regulation game, the Pandas eliminated the Dinos from playoff competition, so pride will be on the line. The Pandas currently sport a 9-1 record, slightly better than the Dinos' 7-3.
"With the unbalanced schedule, we can't look too closely at their record," Harle points out. "Only four of their 10 games have been against top-10 opponents. We never take Alberta lightly, and the probably say the same about us. I would say Alberta is the team we have the best battles with."
The Pandas came off a loss to the less-than stellar University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, and the Dinos are off to a fantastic start in the new year, which may bring about a change of momentum.
"We're coming off two big wins, and they're coming off a loss to UBC. That's going to make for some great basketball."
Tip off in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium is at 6:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.