The Dino's trip to the West Coast failed to produce points, as our woman's basketball team dropped both games over the weekend.
In the season opener on Fri., Nov. 3, the girls lost 61-58 to the University of Victoria Vikes in a defensive battle. The next night, the team crossed the Georgian Strait to face the reigning CIS champion University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, only to fall 91-77 to the undefeated UBC team.
The Dinos had problems holding on to a five point halftime lead against Victoria, surrendering an 11-0 run to the Vikes in the opening minutes of the second half. Nevertheless, the scrappy Dinos stayed in the game until UVic's Michelle Lee sealed the loss by hitting one of her two free throws in the dying seconds of the game. Fourth-year forward Jane Meadwell was a bright spot for Calgary, leading all scorers with 15 points.
"We definitely wanted to start better," said captain Lindsay Maundrell, referring to the first game's poor showing. "We just need to push the ball more; we played too passive, too tentative on the weekend. It was disappointing how we played last weekend. It was because it was our first game. I know we are much better than that."
Playing against a more formidable foe in Vancouver, and smarting from the previous night's loss, the Dinos' play greatly improved against the returning champs. After falling behind by 16 points at the half, Calgary cut the lead to 5-points with five minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, solid 17 point efforts from Meadwell and Courtney Coyle failed to eclipse the T-Birds clutch shooting in the final five minutes.
The losses mark the first time since the 2002/03 season that Coach Shawnee Harle's team stumbled out of the gate with two losses. That year, Calgary lost its first four games, but still qualified for the playoffs with a 12-8 record in the Western conference. The 13-year veteran coach has been in worse ruts, and thus remains optimistic about her team's chances this season.
"We played poorly on Friday, but we still had a chance to win," said Harle, without removing her gaze from the ensuing high-octane practice. "We played a lot better on Saturday, but lost to the division champions. The games on the weekend showed us how tough and scrappy we are going to have to be to play in this league, because we're not very big. I expect us to be better; everybody is back [this year]. We're smarter, and deeper."
Last weekend was the Dino's first taste of the new 24-second shot clock, which was implemented this year to speed up the games. Despite last weekend's outcome, the new rule should benefit a small, fast team like the Dinos. So far, Dinos players seem to be in favour of the change.
"[The shorter shot clock] probably benefits us the most," said Maundrell, while taking a breather from Tuesday's practice. "It should help us. We want to play fast, 'cause we're scrappy, small and fast."
This week Calgary will clash with Simon Fraser University (3-1) on Fri., Nov. 10 home opener and then trade baskets with Trinity Western University (2-2) on Sat., Nov. 11. Expect a strong showing from Calgary this weekend, because they have the home crowd on their side, are well rested and have something to prove.