It had the potential to be one of the biggest upsets of the year in Canada West women's basketball. But, with some costly mistakes in the last four minutes, the UNBC Timberwolves let it slide through their fingers.
In a game held Friday night at the Northern Sport Centre, the Timberwolves fell 63-60 to the heavily-favoured UBC Thunderbirds. The T-birds, ranked No. 6 in the nation, pulled out the narrow victory when they took advantage of some sloppy UNBC play as the clock was ticking down.
"We should have won that game," said veteran forward Kady Dandeneau, who scored a team-high 14 points for the Timberwolves. "It came down to little things -- mental errors. That game was ours. But, we made turnovers and we let them get two offensive boards in a row. That can't happen."
After a UBC steal led to an uncontested lay-up, the visitors took a 61-60 lead when third-year guard Kris Young hit an open shot with 1:49 to go. The T-wolves had a chance to answer back but Jennifer Bruce missed an attempted three-pointer. On their next possession, the Thunderbirds failed to convert on an inside shot but pulled down the rebound. The T-birds then missed again and UNBC appeared to secure the rebound but the ball was stripped away. Given one more opportunity to score, the Thunderbirds did. Again, it was Young, who found all net on a short jumper.
UNBC didn't get a shot away on its final possession and any visions of a victory disappeared.
"At the end of the day, when you get a team and you're up in your home gym, you need to beat them, I don't care who they are," said Timberwolves coach Loralyn Murdoch.
The T-wolves played a strong first half. They were up 12-11 after the first quarter and trailed 31-25 at the break.
UNBC's best quarter, by far, was the third. The T-wolves, with aggressive basketball at both ends of the floor, took the game right at the more powerful Thunderbirds and outscored them 20-11. UNBC rode that momentum for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter but couldn't maintain it at crunch time.
UBC coach Deb Huband said a slow start by her squad set the tone for the night.
"We had lots of good looks in the first five minutes of the game and I don't think we scored until well into the first quarter," she said. "UNBC played tough and I think some of their players played with good confidence and hit some big shots but I'm pretty disappointed in how we performed. Hopefully [tonight] we'll do a better job."
Leigh Stansfield led UBC with 14 points, while Alyssa Binns and Young both finished with 12. Emily Kaehn added 12 points for the Timberwolves and Mercedes Van Koughnett had 10.
The Thunderbirds moved to 15-4 on the season and the Timberwolves -- a first-year team in Canada West -- dropped to 6-13. The loss was their fifth in a row.
The T-wolves and T-birds will be back on the NSC court tonight. The opening tip-off is set for 6 p.m.