Women's Basketball Scores Big Win In West Coast Preseason Trip
The defending MCAC Women's Basketball Champions have had a few opportunities to score a major victory on behalf of their program and their Provincial Sport Conference, the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference, this preseason and the Blazers were finally able to take that step last weekend when they defeated the defending PacWest Conference Champions, Capilano University Blues, in North Vancouver on Saturday evening 73-65.
The Blazers got great production from second-year guard Shirliz Apiyo who led her team on a 5-0 run to close out the first quarter after trailing 13-8. The Fort Richmond Collegiate product went 2 for 4 from the free throw line and cashed in a game tying basket from behind the three-point line to make the score 13-13 with 10.8 to go in the quarter.
Apiyo continued to have the hot hand in the second quarter, scoring on 3 of 3 field goal attempts, her third giving CMU a 25-19 advantage. While Apiyo was filling the basket on the offensive end of the court, Jessica Marx-Houndle was capitalizing defensively from a full-court press that was implimented to begin the quarter. The third-year guard recorded 3 steals in the quarter and finished the half with two key buckets to open a lead of 40-31 at the break. Apiyo would finish the half with 11 points while Marx-Houndle added 10.
The Blue rebounded in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 5 points and forcing head coach Joe Di Curzio to call a timeout after a 7-0 run and the score 49-44. From there, Julia Schatkowsky nailed a free-throw and the Blazers got a long two from Kayla Dao before the horn sounded and finish the quarter clinging to a 52-46 lead.
Capilano cut the lead to as little as 1 when Alessia Brutto's lay-up made the score 57-56 with 6:01 to play in the fourth. Within seconds however, momentum would swing back to the visitors. A turnover in the offensive end led to a fastbreak for the home team but a relentless Marx-Houndle would reverse the advantage, outrunning the Blues ball-handler and drawing a controversial charge to stop the Blues attack and get the ball back for CMU.
One last burst for Capilano would draw them back within 2 points when third-year guard Georgia Nelson drained a three-ball with 3:37 remaining in the game. With the score 66-62, CMU's Madison Wood was fouled hard after grabbing a defensive rebound. The first-year forward was able to collect herself to hit on 2 of 2 from the foul line to add to her career high 16-point effort that included shooting 7 of 8 from the charity stripe. Schatkowsky would also count 16 points for the Blazers to go with her 12 rebounds in a win that ended 73-65
"We've worked alot on our free throw shooting at practice but we struggled with it all weekend, so when I had to shoot two important ones with the score so close at the time, I was honestly just hoping that they would go in!", said Wood.
Framing the big win over Capilano was an 84-72 loss to the Langara Falcons on Friday in Vancouver and a 58-45 loss to the Douglas Royals on Sunday afternoon in New Westminster.
"These were big games for our young group and a huge experience for us," said Di Curzio. "We were in every game and with all of them, it was a 10-point in the final five minutes so ultimately we are really happy with how we competed against very experienced teams. The players definitely showed that we are up for any challenge."
For now Women's Basketball is back to practice as they enjoy some time off before their final preseason contest October 23rd when CMU hosts the Dakota College at Bottineau Lady Jacks in the Loewen Athletic Centre at 6:00 pm.