Sveta Boykova owned the paint Saturday night as the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves beat the University of Winnipeg Wesmen 66-64 in a thrilling women’s basketball contest at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.
Boykova had 21 rebounds, seven of those off the offensive glass, to go along with 10 points, six assists and two blocks and two steals. Her offensive rebound followed by a full-court pass to a streaking Rebecca Landry gave the Timberwolves a nine-point lead with less than two minutes to play.
The Wesmen, who fell to 10-4, battled back and had a shot for the win at the buzzer, but it rattled out.
The win gives UNBC a split of the weekend set, the second straight weekend they’ve earned a victory against a team higher in the standings. The win lifts the Timberwolves to 5-9 on the season and 4-2 in 2023 as they chase down a Canada West playoff berth.
“It was a team effort tonight, everyone contributed every second. It was a tough game because we were playing a really good team,” UNBC captain Alina Shakirova said.
The Timberwolves let a late lead slip away on Friday and they weren’t about to let it happen again.
“Yesterday was a great learning experience and today we didn’t want to make the same mistakes,” she said. “We knew we needed to be careful with the ball, but not scared and afraid to bring up the ball and attack. That’s what we did and we concentrated on defence.”
As the Timberwolves built a nine-point lead after three quarters, it was the work of Boykova that stood out. Whether it was grabbing offensive boards and putting back layups, grabbing offensive boards and kicking it out to teammates for three-pointers or blocking shots and grabbing defensive boards, her work in the key was crucial to UNBC’s success.
“It’s so important when you have someone on the boards getting all those rebounds,” Shakirova said of Boykova’s performance after the game. “It’s something that people don’t always realize, but it’s crucial for success so we can get a second chance at points or prevent the other team from getting points.”
Shakirova led the way offensively with 21 points, including hitting four of her six three-point attempts. Landry added 13.
Robyn Boulanger scored 20 for the Wesmen, while Kyanna Giles added 14 and Raizel Guinto scored 13.
The Timberwolves were able to extend possessions by grabbing offensive rebounds and it paid off with second-chance points. Landry gave UNBC its first lead of the second quarter with a bucket after UNBC was able to earn three offensive phases. Moments later Boykova nabbed an offensive board and put it back in as UNBC turned what was a three-point deficit at the end of the first quarter into a 34-30 lead at half-time.
The Timberwolves were recognizing Pride Day, sponsored by CUPE Local 3799. The Progress Pride flag was on display at the Northern Sport Centre, halftime featured a drag lip sync show and the Timberwolves wore their rainbow warm-up shirts.
The Timberwolves are on the road next weekend as they travel to Calgary to play Mount Royal. They are back at the Northern Sport Centre on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4 against Thompson Rivers.
The Wesmen return home for a two-game set with the University of the Fraser Valley next weekend.