Lady Timberwolves ranked third in Canada
They have a higher ranking and will play closer to home.
Those are a couple of factors which could benefit the UNBC women’s basketball team at this year’s Canadian Colleges Athletic Association women’s basketball nationals, scheduled for March 15 to 17 in Lethbridge, Alta. The Northern Timberwolves enter the competition ranked third in the country, an improvement over the No. 5 seed they had in 2008, when they travelled all the way to Truro, N.S. for the first CCAA national tournament for the university.
While the ultimate feat would be national gold, UNBC will try and improve on its 2008 final standing of sixth.
This year’s ranking has them in line for a first-round game against the sixth-seeded Algonquin College Thunder, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association provincial champions. They’re scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. Mountain Time) on March 15.
The rest of the teams and their rankings are: the No. 1 Grant MacEwan University Griffins (Alberta champion); No. 2 Dawson College Blues (Quebec champion); No. 4 St. Foy College Dynamiques (Quebec wildcard); No. 5 St. Thomas University Tommies (Atlantic champion); No. 7 Lethbridge College Kodiaks (Alberta, host); and No. 8 Seneca College Sting (Ontario wildcard).
Northern Timberwolves head coach Loralyn Murdoch said she’s happy with their position, which she called a slightly higher ranking than she anticipated. Still coming off the emotional high of UNBC’s PacWest double gold in basketball in North Vancouver on Saturday night, Murdoch referred to nationals as a whole new season.
“Season 1 is our league, Season 2 is provincials and Season 3 (is nationals), and we know nothing about these teams and it’s going to be who can best prepare in a week.”
With a 62-53 victory over the Vancouver Island University Mariners, the Timberwolves celebrated their first provincial college title since winning on their home court in 2008. The win capped off a 2011-12 PacWest campaign in which they topped the regular-season standings with a 15-1 record, including a perfect 8-0 mark in their home gym, the Northern Sport Centre.
The Timberwolves’ only regular-season loss was against the team they defeated in the gold-medal final. The Mariners outscored UNBC 73-57 in Nanaimo on Feb. 11.
“We had prepared for VIU, we had to prepare for a lot of teams,” Murdoch said. “But VIU was one of the teams that we thought we might meet, and because they had beat us just two or three weeks ago, we put in a little bit of extra preparation just to make sure we were prepared if we did see them.”
In the semifinal round on Friday, UNBC outscored the Camosun College Chargers 71-48 and the Mariners downed the Capilano University Blues 59-54 in overtime. The Blues defeated the Chargers 72-52 in Saturday’s bronze-medal game. The Quest University Kermodes and Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles also entered the six-team tournament.
Third-year guard Mercedes Van Koughnett led UNBC with 20 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in the final. She was named Tournament MVP, while teammate Jennifer Clyne was an all-star selection.
As if Saturday night wasn’t already memorable enough for UNBC after the first final, the women saw their male counterparts defeat VIU in the men’s gold-medal game that followed. The men’s national championship runs March 15 to 17 in Truro, N.S. Both teams will leave Prince George on March 13, with March 14 a practice day.
“It was awesome. It was a great evening to be a part of UNBC,” Murdoch said of the provincial finals. “We had amazing fan support, the First Nations drummers were awesome, the parents were awesome, grandparents, friends, family, we had so many alumni there. It was just a really, really great experience.”