The UBC Thunderbirds (6-10) defeated the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack (1-17) 80-35 and recognized graduating seniors kate johnson, Dina Strujic and Madison Legault in their final home game at War Memorial Gym.
Johnson finished with a career-high 20 points, eight steals, seven assists and three rebounds, Strujic had 3 points, 5 rebounds and a steal, and Legault had a career-high 18 points with seven boards in the win. convincing.
“I think the most important thing after last night’s heartbreak was our ability to get the win,” the UBC head coach said. Erin McAleenan after the T-Birds rebounded from a tough loss to UFV and are now tied with UBCO for fifth in the West Division standings. “On the senior night we wanted to dig a little deeper, and I’m very proud of how the three seniors stayed focused and played hard on both sides. Hailey Counsell outside we had to change some things, so we had really stepped up bench players – especially on the defensive side.
Jessica Orr led the WolfPack with nine points, Elana Sireni had seven points, six boards and two blocks, while TRU had six blocked shots and 16 steals in its final regular season game.
Emily Martindale found Legault in the paint for an easy faceoff and an 8-2 UBC lead in the first quarter before Sara Toneguzzi drained a three for the ‘Birds on the next possession. The T-Birds defense continued to stifle TRU during the first, and UBC limited the WolfPack to just three points in the frame – leading 18-3 going into the second. The Thunderbirds capitalized on 13 WolfPack turnovers and scored 11 points on the fast break to solidify a comfortable advantage.
Sireni put TRU on the board early in the second with two free throws and Kelsey Cruz scored on a solid forward, but Legault and Johnson each got to the edge for UBC and restored a 22-8 cushion. Priyanca Sundher knocked down a triple at 28-15′ Birds, but Johnson made back-to-back baskets to bring the T-Birds up 32-15 at halftime.
Katie Hartmann beat the shot clock for a long two and a 39-15 lead as UBC continued to build momentum throughout the third, until Orr and Sireni drained back-to-back threes at 48- 26 T-Birds. The home side responded with a 10-1 run and finished the quarter with Johnson finding Azalia Forstbauer at the buzzer for a 58-27 edge.
The Thunderbirds showed their depth in a lopsided fourth quarter, and all three graduating seniors received standing ovations as they left the field at War Memorial Gym for the final time. second year center Olivia Morgan Cherchas came into the game and dropped her first three on her second three-point attempt as a Thunderbird to cap the 80-35 win.
Recently retired UBC head coaching legend Deb Huband stood alongside the three senior graduates and Coach McAleenan to celebrate their dedication and impact in the blue and gold over the years.
?? WBB | Congratulations ???? to our 3 graduating seniors kate johnson, Dina Strujic& Madison Legault after their last home game at War Memorial Gym on Seniors Night!
— UBC Thunderbirds (@ubctbirds) February 13, 2022
Next up for the Thunderbirds is a Thursday night game with the UNBC Timberwolves (6-7) at 6:00 p.m. (PT) in Prince George, before wrapping up the regular season in Kelowna against the UBCO Heat on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. . (PT).
“We always want to work on consistency with our aggressive ball defense,” McAleenan added as the T-Birds look to build on the dominant win. “Offensively, when we’re not scoring, we have to find ways to take good shots and be balanced at the rim. We want to stay focused on the game plan, not let the pressure consume us and enjoy the opportunity. We ‘regardless, we’re all going to the playoffs, and in a unique situation, anything can happen.”
The WolfPack is on hiatus until the Canada West playoffs begin with a tournament including all 17 conference teams starting March 4and-6and in Calgary, Alberta.