VANCOUVER — The UBC Thunderbirds bounced back with a hard-fought effort Saturday night, but missed their fourth win in a 68-61 overtime loss to the Trinity Western Spartans at War Memorial Gym.
“We talked a lot about energy, urgency and excitement, and those are some of our short-term goals,” the UBC head coach said. Erin McAleenan. “Especially after yesterday, when it was lacking overall, we did a really good job. It was evident in the way we defended – apart from a few times in the third quarter – but overall we got on. beaten and applied good ball pressure. We love overtime games these days, and unfortunately we didn’t get some rebounds that we could have used at the end of the game.”
Hailey Counsell led the T-Birds with 15 points and seven rebounds, Dina Strujic scored nine points and seven tips, while kate johnson added ten points with three assists and four steals in the narrow loss.
“We had a lot more assists tonight than we’ve had in other games,” McAleenan added. “Finally, offensively, we’re really looking to share the basketball and find shots for our teammates. We’re a young and/or inexperienced team with ten games that, all but last night, were either decided in overtime or super close to the end of the game. So if anything, we have learned and improved. Now we are resting for a bit, hopefully a few more people will come back into the lineup, and we will be good to go for the next semester.
Nicole Fransson had an impressive 25 points and 18 rebounds with seven assists in the win, Jolene Vlieg had 12 points and seven assists, and Kianna Wiens added 10 points and five boards as the Spartans head into the winter break unbeaten at 6-0.
Fransson picked up where she left off on night one, opening the scoring for the Spartans with three straight baskets before Dina Strujic put the ‘Birds on the board at 6-2 and Counsell gave UBC the lead with a layup and three. The home side settled in and traded buckets with TWU throughout a tightly contested stretch with the score tied at 16-16 after the first quarter.
The T-Birds rebounded well in the second quarter and took the lead on a Azalia Forstbauer layup before Strujic hit a three for a 23-19 advantage. The UBC defense continued to be stalled and took a 29-25 lead at halftime.
Fransson scored the first in the third quarter to make it a one-possession game, and Jayden Gill tied it at 29-29 on TWU’s next trip to the field. With the score tied at 33-33, Fransson again reached the rim for two and the Spartans extended their lead to five before Katie Hartmann drained a three. Counsell brought the T-Birds within four on a tough hold at the rim at 43-39 Trinity Western late in the third quarter.
Down 47-43 in the fourth, Counsell hit the bucket and fouled – hitting both free throws – before Johnson made a free throw at 47-46 TWU. Counsell then won a hoop and the wrong to restore the ‘Birds to a narrow lead with two minutes remaining. The Spartans took a timeout with possession and 42 seconds left but couldn’t capitalize until Fransson scored in the paint with 13 seconds left to make it 54-53. TWU intentionally fouled Counsell with 11.2 on the clock, and the T-Bird guard hit one of two free throws. Trailing 55-53, the Spartans handed the ball to Fransson in the paint – and the game’s leading scorer beat the buzzer to send it into overtime.
— UBC Thunderbirds (@ubctbirds) December 5, 2021
Jolene Vlieg knocked down two free throws for a 59-57 overtime advantage and Kailey Reimer extended it to four at 62-58 with a short jumper. TWU forced a turnover and took a 64-59 lead with 34.3 remaining in the extra frame and held on for the win.
Both teams will enjoy an extended break over the holidays and return to conference play in January. The Thunderbirds make their 2022 debut on January 13and at UBC Okanagan, while the Spartans are back in action on January 7and and 8and on the road against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.