by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
The Windsor Lancers women’s basketball team will use their recent Canada West road trip experience to their aide as they look to advance passed the UBC Thunderbirds in the first round of the Darcel Wright Memorial Tournament at Ryerson University in Toronto this weekend.
After splitting a pair of preseason contests with the Trinity Western Spartans and the UVic Vikings during their trip, Lancers head coach Chantal Vallee said facing another Canada West opponent like UBC early in the season will be beneficial should they return in search of the program’s sixth national title at the 2017 CIS championships in Victoria in March.
“I’m glad we’re playing a lot of Canada West teams because they are hosting nationals and atleast UVic will be there so we’ll already have played one team at nationals,” said Vallee. “I think both Trinity Western and UVic are both good teams that will get some very good wins but I was disappointed with our second game. I think the players worked hard, played hard and gave a lot of effort so it’s not like we did not play at all, we played a decent game – but UVic was outstanding.”
Windsor saw three UVic Vikes score over 17 points each and shoot 60 percent as a team en route to an 85-72 victory over the Lancers Oct. 14. The game saw the lead change seven times, but the Vikes were able to pull away late in the fourth quarter. Vikes leading scorer Anira Giannattasio poured in 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while forward Jenna Bugiardini added 21 points and guard Jenna Krug put up 17 points.
Third year guard Carly Steer knocked down five threes to lead Windsor with 18 points and senior Caitlyn Longmuir hit four triples for 13 points. Emily Prevost scored 12 points with seven rebounds, Kaylee Anagnostopoulos scored 11 points and Cheyanne Roger had 10 points and six rebounds. Windsor finished with 18 turnovers on the night, which the Vikes converted into 19 points.
“We could not stop them, they scored 85 points. That is rare that a team is going to score so much on us,” said Vallee. “They shot 60 percent, a very high percentage for a whole game. We played well but we’re not going to win games giving up 85 points.”
Two nights earlier, the Lancers kicked off their weekend by dropping the Trinity Western Spartans 87-72 at the David E. Enarson Gym in Langley, B.C., Oct. 12. Windsor shot 53 percent from the field and saw five players hit double-digits in scoring against the Spartans.
Steer knocked down five three-pointers to lead the team with 17 points. Captain Prevost had 16 points and five rebounds, Melissa Ellis scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, Roger contributed with 10 points and seven rebounds, and Longmuir finished with 10 points, three assists and three rebounds.
“I think we’ve got a good team here at Windsor, I was very pleased with our first game,” said Vallee. “This club is showing me we are very strong offensively and we can score from all levels and I’m happy about that, but certainly our defense is not up to par. But that is very fixable and it’s not for a lack of talent or a lack of effort so we just need to tighten up our defense and come out stronger.”
Heading into their first-round match-up of the tournament against the T-Birds, Vallee said the goal is for the Lancers to keep their opponents under 70 points. Vallee added how much valuable experience is gained playing in a tournament format.
“This will be a good indication on if we can win a national championship, in my opinion,” said Vallee. “We’re going to try and keep them under 70 points and convert on all of our scoring opportunities to get through these games. If we want to go anywhere on the season, we have to come up and win tournaments like that. We want to be in the final at least, if not win it. That’s what we want to do this weekend, that’s the goal.”
The Darcel Wright Memorial Tournament will be played at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto. Windsor tips off against UBC Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.