They were defeated in the provincial final on Saturday, which left them unsatisfied with a silver medal finish.
But the bigger loss for members of the UNBC Northern Timberwolves came two days later, when they discovered they wouldn’t be returning to nationals.
The list of eight teams released on Monday by the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association for the women’s basketball championship, taking place March 19 to 21 in Sainte-Foy, Que., didn’t include the Timberwolves. They were hoping to get a chance to improve on their sixth-place finish at the 2008 national tournament in Truro, N.S. and knew a pair of teams across the country would be selected as wild-card entries.
“I was a little surprised. I thought that we had a good chance at (a wild-card berth),” UNBC women’s basketball head coach Loralyn Murdoch said on Monday. “The national committee has got a tough job though, and at the end of the day, our exhibition schedule results weren’t good enough and we weren’t ranked high enough nationally to warrant the wildcard.”
Murdoch passed on the news to her players via e-mail on Monday.
“We haven’t had an opportunity to have closure on the season yet and we’ll do that on Wednesday,” she said.
Prior to B.C. Colleges Athletic Association provincials, held Thursday to Saturday at North Vancouver’s Capilano University, the Timberwolves were ranked ninth in the CCAA. The Victoria-based Camosun College Chargers, who defeated UNBC 77-61 in Saturday’s gold medal game, were third on the list and enter nationals seeded fourth.
The other league champions and their rankings entering nationals are No. 1 Lethbridge College (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference), No. 2 Sheridan College (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association), No. 3 Dawson College (Quebec Student Sport Federation) and No. 7 St. Thomas University (Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association).
No. 6 Grant MacEwan College of Edmonton (Alberta) and No. 8 Seneca College of Toronto (Ontario) received wild-card berths, while host Sainte-Foy is seeded fifth.
To advance to the provincial final, the Timberwolves defeated the host Capilano University Blues 75-70 on Friday. Second-year forward Kady Dandeneau led UNBC with 23 points, while fifth-year guard Jaclyn Nazareno chipped in with 16.
In the final, fifth-year forward Laurel Wallace led UNBC offensively with 14 points. Trying to maintain possession of the ball against the Chargers proved to be a challenge for the Timberwolves, as they committed 35 turnovers. They found themselves in a hole early, trailing Camosun 25-11 after the first quarter.
“They pressed us for 40 minutes just like they did the first time we saw them, but they wanted it a lot more,” Murdoch said. “They played well, they played tough, they were relentless, they never gave up, and even when we beat their press two or three times in a row, they just kept it on.”
Already recruiting for the 2009-10 campaign, Murdoch is returning to North Vancouver this weekend to watch girls basketball players participating in triple-A provincials. She’ll get a chance to evaluate potential members of the 2009-10 squad during an identification camp March 28 and 29 at the Northern Sport Centre.