After a slow start the Huskies women’s basketball team came back to defeat the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and advance to the Canada West final four. The Dogs lost the opening game but recovered to win the next two.
The number three seeded Huskies will face the number two seeded University of Regina Cougars in the semi-finals.
The Thunderbirds opened the series with a 57-47 win on Feb. 28 in the War Memorial Gym in Vancouver, B.C. The Huskies struggled from the floor during the first game and were never able to break through the Thunderbirds’ defence.
The first quarter saw the Dogs go 3-for-17 from the floor, helping the Thunderbirds to a 18-6 lead. The Thunderbirds continued to stay out in front and ended the half ahead 30-19.
The Thunderbirds’ defence continued to frustrate the Huskies in the third period, giving the home team a 10-point cushion throughout. The home team was able to ride out the lead until the end of the game.
The Huskies levelled the series after winning the second game 58-48 in another tough defensive battle.
After building a 20-14 lead after the first period things seemed to be looking good for the Dogs but the Thunderbirds battled back to lead 28-27 at the halfway point. The teams traded leads throughout the third period but eventually the Huskies edged out a 41-38 advantage heading into the final period.
The Huskies went on a 7-0 run to start the frame and open up their biggest lead of the night. From there the Dogs’ strong defence denied the Thunderbirds any chance at getting back into the game.
In the decider the Huskies’ domination off the boards helped the team secure the series with a 85-75 win. The Dogs grabbed 27 more rebounds than the Thunderbirds, giving them a 22-8 edge in second-chance points.
The Huskies built a 12 point lead heading into the fourth quarter but, with a spot in the final four on the line, the Thunderbirds dug in. The Thunderbirds went on a 12-1 run to cut the lead down to 73-70 with three minutes left in the game, but the Dogs made all 12 of their ensuing free throws to book their spot in the final four.
The Dogs will have to play some of their best ball if they want to get past the Cougars in the next round. The teams split their meeting early this season with the Cougars winning 73-52 on Nov. 15 and the Huskies winning 56-43 on Nov. 16.
The Cougars ended the regular season 20-2 in second place in the Prairie Division while the Huskies finished right behind them with a 17-5 record.
Key players for the Huskies will be Kiera Lyons, Kabree Howard and Dalyce Emmerson — who leads the team in rebounds and points per game. The Cougars will look to Nicole Clarke, Katie Polischuk and Charlotte Kot.
Tip off is at 6:00 p.m. on March 7 in Edmonton, Alta.
Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor