Just weeks from now, the UNBC Timberwolves will experience life at the next level. As new members of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association, they'll have some painful nights.
But, against college-level competition Friday evening at the Northern Sport Centre, the Timberwolves were the ones who dished out the punishment.
In a women's basketball exhibition game against the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves, UNBC was in control the entire time and was particularly dominant in the second half. When the final buzzer sounded, the Timberwolves had themselves an 84-42 victory.
Friday's game was the first opportunity for the 2012-13 T-wolves to play together. For all of September, they had only been practicing.
"It was a good way to start," said UNBC head coach Loralyn Murdoch. "We needed to get a game under our belts and we needed to get some of the first-years some playing time."
Given the fact the T-wolves were playing their first real minutes together, it wasn't surprising they were much stronger in the second half. UNBC held a 41-25 advantage at the break and then came out in the third quarter and outscored the visitors 27-7. The Timberwolves opened the quarter on a 22-0 run and didn't allow a Grande Prairie bucket for the first 6:31.
"The veterans kind of stepped up a little bit more in the second half," Murdoch said. "We ran some stuff in the first half and didn't finish and the score was a little bit tighter. In the second half it was just a matter of taking it to them.
"We really want to push the ball and take advantage of any weaknesses we can."
Mercedes Van Koughnett, a fourth-year guard/forward for the Timberwolves, led her team with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Fellow vets Sarah Robin (18 points) and Emily Kaehn (16 points) also had big nights.
Some of the UNBC newcomers also looked strong, including rookie forward Allison Seinen and rookie post player Jasprit Nijjar. Seinen played an aggressive style and finished well around the hoop, while the six-foot-one Nijjar used her length to pull down some rebounds and score some easy baskets in the paint.
"The rookies, they're coming into a team that has seen a lot of success and has played together for three or four or five years and it's going to take time," Murdoch said. "I'm really happy that they came out and showed some learning today."
The UNBC and Grande Prairie men played later Friday night. The Timberwolves won xx-xx.
The teams will be back on the NSC court today. The women will play at 1 p.m. and the men will tip off at 3 p.m.
Next weekend, both UNBC squads will be at the University of Waterloo to test themselves against Canadian Interuniversity Sport competition. Canada West is part of the CIS.
n Forward Kady Dandeneau, the lone fifth-year player for the UNBC women, sat out Friday's game because of a knee strain and could miss the entire pre-season. Murdoch said Dandeneau will be ready to go for the regular season, which starts Nov. 2.