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Top teams tip off tonight at UNBC

The winner will be all alone in first place. So, when the UNBC Northern Timberwolves and UBC Okanagan Heat step onto the Northern Sport Centre court tonight, there will be no shortage of intensity.

The winner will be all alone in first place.

So, when the UNBC Northern Timberwolves and UBC Okanagan Heat step onto the Northern Sport Centre court tonight, there will be no shortage of intensity. In this women's basketball game, bodies will be dropping almost as often as shots.

"No one comes into our building and wins so we'll try and play our best and work hard and see what happens," said UNBC forward Emily Kaehn, whose team is 4-0 at home this season and 10-1 overall in the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association. The Heat has also built up a 10-1 record.

The teams have already met once this season, Nov. 14 in Kelowna. That night, UBC-O was strong under the offensive glass and walked away with a 74-59 victory.

"They've got some bigs so we're going to have to work on our post defence," said UNBC head coach Loralyn Murdoch. "That's kind of what killed us last time we played them. Their guards are also pretty quick and they're going to press (on defence).

"They've got their veteran players playing well but if we play without fear and we play with confidence, we should battle with them."

Two of the towers for the Heat are six-foot-two Rachelle Briscoe and six-foot Meghan McGill. Briscoe, a second-year player, is leading the Heat in average rebounds per contest (67 in 11 games) and is 13th in the league in the category. McGill doesn't have quite the same altitude but has more college-level games on her resum than any of her teammates. She's the lone fifth-year player on the UBC-O roster.

Jenna Kantz is another important Heat player the Timberwolves will have to defend. Kantz, a fourth-year guard, is 13th in league scoring average (124 points in 11 games) and second to UNBC's Christine Kennedy in assists. Kantz has dished out 47 helpers and Kennedy has piled up 60 so far.

Defensively, the Heat has given up a league-low 540 points, an average of only 49 per game.

In the national rankings, UBC-O currently occupies the No. 6 spot and UNBC sits at No. 11. Heat coach Heather Semeniuk has built her club to host this season's national championship tournament.

The game will start at 6 p.m.

Following the women's contest, the UNBC and UBC-O men will take to the floor and that game also figures to be highly-competitive. The T-wolves (10-1) are in second place and the Heat (8-3) is one spot back. In November, the Timberwolves beat the Heat 81-66.

"They're a good team," said UNBC post player Dennis Stark. "We saw them earlier in the season and I think they probably want that one back. I don't think they played to their full potential. Coming up to our gym, they've played here quite a bit and they should be as amped up as we are. I'm sure they've gotten better since we played them so that's going to be a really good test."

Second-year forward Ryan Fahandeg is usually the most dangerous offensive player for the Heat. In 11 games this season, he has knocked down 187 points for the fourth-best average in the BCCAA. Six-foot-four forward Dave Mackay leads UBC-O in rebounding (81 in 11 games) and Dave Joseph is the club's assists leader. The fourth-year guard has 33 helpers in 11 outings.

The Heat also have fourth-year guard Jeff Van Dolah on their roster. Van Dolah is a former member of the Timberwolves and is originally from Vanderhoof.

The current T-wolves, meanwhile, will try to take the game right at the Heat. The Timberwolves are at their best when they crash the defensive boards and turn the ball up floor in a hurry.

"We try not to deviate too much from what we do," said UNBC head coach Mike Raimbault. "I expect it to be a dogfight for 40 minutes."

Guards Jose Araujo and Inderbir Gill -- third and fifth in league scoring average -- give UNBC unrivaled point production from the backcourt. In 11 games, Araujo has amassed 201 points and Gill has hit for 186.

The Timberwolves will be missing third-year post player Jesse Smith. He has a broken right thumb and is sidelined indefinitely.