The UNBC Timberwolves will need Emily Kaehn to play some bruising basketball for them this season. Her performance Friday in Calgary bordered on perfection.
Kaehn, a fourth-year forward, was at her physical best in an 80-61 win against the SAIT Trojans. In the game, part of the Mount Royal University Cougar Classic exhibition tournament, she scored a team-high 20 points and most of them were the result of crashing around in the paint and making life difficult for defenders.
"She played extremely well," said UNBC coach Loralyn Murdoch. "She rebounded hard, got lots and lots of offensive rebounds and finishes. She just played really hard. It's mandatory that she rebounds well and is aggressive. She led the team with her aggressiveness tonight."
Kaehn is only five-foot-nine but, during her UNBC career, has always used her powerful frame and competitive fire to full effectiveness. With the Timberwolves jumping to the Canada West Universities Athletic Association this season, she becomes even more important because opposing Canada West forwards will be much more imposing than they were in the B.C. college league.
The younger SAIT team plays at the college level, in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
In Friday's game, UNBC also got 12 points each from Jasprit Nijjar, Jordyn Rabbitt and Mercedes Van Koughnett. Nijjar, a rookie post player from Vancouver, earned Murdoch's praise for her efforts.
"She played some minutes and she did very well," Murdoch said. "She was 100 per cent from the floor. She's six-foot-one and she was right where she needed to be to catch some passes and score. This has got to be a huge confidence builder for her."
In pre-season play, the T-wolves now have a 3-1 record. Today at Mount Royal, they'll get perhaps their toughest test to date when they take on a fellow Canada West team, the University of Calgary Dinos.
"They're long, they're athletic, they're aggressive and it's going to be a really big challenge for us," Murdoch said. "We're looking forward to it."
The Timberwolves will also play on Sunday, against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. That game will conclude their pre-season schedule.
The UNBC women will make their regular-season debut in Canada West on Nov. 2 in Kamloops against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.