Wednesday April 23, 2014






'Pack in middle of frantic playoff race

Murray Mitchell

Guard Troy Grant of the TRU WolfPack works to drive his way around Terrell Evans (8) of the Victoria Vikes during a Canada West men’s basketball game at the TCC on Saturday night.

The TRU WolfPack women's basketball team knows it's in the Canada West playoffs, but it still doesn't know where it fits.

The WolfPack beat the Victoria Vikes 73-63 at the Tournament Capital Centre on Saturday. Not only was it a big victory in that Victoria is ranked No. 8 in the country, but it also helped TRU (12-5) clinch a playoff spot for a second straight season.

And in a Pacific Division with the top four teams separated by two victories, the WolfPack still has a chance to play host to a first-round playoff series, something no TRU team has done. The Fraser Valley Cascades (13-3) are first, followed by the UBC Thunderbirds (12-4), TRU and Victoria (11-5).

Of TRU's five remaining games, two are against the Cascades in Abbotsford, two are against the Trinity Western Spartans (5-11) at the TCC and the last will be in Kelowna against the UBC-Okanagan Heat (5-12).

Scott Reeves, TRU's head coach, knows that there's a lot out of his team's control.

"There's still a big series between UBC and Victoria (on Feb. 15-16)," he said. "UBC owns the tiebreak on us, and we now, I think, own the tiebreak on Vic."

The WolfPack had lost two straight - including a 71-67 loss to visiting Victoria on Friday - so Saturday's victory came at a good time.

But the WolfPack struggled in the same areas on Saturday as it did on Friday. Reeves was unhappy that the Vikes had 19 offensive rebounds and took 70 shots on Friday; Victoria ended with 22 offensive rebounds and 75 shots on Saturday.

"So, why am I so much happier tonight?" Reeves joked. "Probably because we shot the ball so much better. They didn't shoot it well."

Jen Ju led the way for the WolfPack, scoring 21 points, and Jorri Duxbury added 18 points, six assists and five steals. Taiysa Worsfold scored 13 points, Diane Schuetze had 13 rebounds, and rookie Rebeca Fernandez scored nine points in 12 minutes off the bench.

"Look at the job (Fernandez) did when she came in," Reeves said. "She was outstanding. . . . For her to perform like that as a freshman, I thought, was outstanding."

Debbie Yeboah had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Victoria, but struggled shooting, going 4-for-23 from the field. Jenny Lewis also scored 11 points.

TRU is scheduled to play host to the Spartans on Thursday and Friday, 6 o'clock both nights.

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The WolfPack men, meanwhile, dropped their fourth straight game - 80-65 to Victoria - to fall to 6-11.

TRU slipped out of playoff position, but the team directly above it, Trinity Western (7-9), is in town on Thursday and Friday. Game time both nights is 8 o'clock.

On Saturday, TRU kept it close in the first half, but the powerful Vikes (11-5) just outlasted their hosts.

"The kids have won and lost basketball games, and I've won and lost basketball games - the loss isn't what makes you feel bad, it's the way you play that makes you feel bad," said WolfPack head coach Scott Clark.

"Today, we should hold our heads high. . . . They're a good basketball team."

Kevin Pribilsky had 17 points in the loss, and Blaz Bozinovic had 12 points and 17 rebounds. Akeem Pierre also scored 10 points.

Terrell Evans and Chris McLaughlin each had 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the Vikes, Michael Acheampong scored 13 points and Brin Taylor scored 12.

With five games remaining, the WolfPack needs some victories. After its two games with Trinity Western, TRU will play a doubleheader with the Cascades (9-7) in Abbotsford before finishing with a game against the Heat (2-15) in Kelowna on Feb. 16.

"Next weekend, the games are very important and we know that," Clark said.

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It was a tough Saturday for the WolfPack volleyball squads, as TRU's women fell to 0-18 and its men's playoff hopes were dealt another blow.

TRU's women fell in four sets (25-13, 26-24, 23-25, 25-11) to the host Calgary Dinos. The WolfPack is at home to the Mount Royal Cougars on Saturday, 5 p.m., and Sunday, 2 p.m.

Carly Nelson and Katarina Osadchuk had nine kills apiece to lead the WolfPack, and Rachel Murray and Kristen Giesbrecht had seven kills each. Katie Woo had 32 set assists and 12 digs, and Nelson had 13 digs.

Andrea Price and Lindsay Russell each had 11 kills for Calgary, which improved to 9-9.

TRU's men were swept (25-16, 25-22, 25-21) by the Dinos, leaving both teams at 6-12. TRU is set to play host to the Cougars (7-11) on Friday and Saturday, before finishing the regular season against the Winnipeg Wesmen (8-10) on Feb. 8-9.

With Winnipeg holding the last playoff spot, the WolfPack will need to win all of its remaining matches.

Brad Gunter had 14 kills and 12 digs for the WolfPack on Saturday, and Colin Carson had 27 set assists. Sean Martin had 12 kills for Calgary.

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The WolfPack jumped from fifth to third in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League standings with a pair of victories over the visiting Eastern Washington Eagles.

TRU won 5-1 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday to improve to 7-8-0-1. The Eagles fell to 6-10-0-1 and now sit fifth.

Duncan Schulz, Alessio Tomassetti, Anthony Delong, Colten De Frias and Cody Rose had the WolfPack's goals on Friday, and Shane Mainprize stopped 28 shots. Former Kamloops Blazers forward Uriah Machuga had the goal for the Eagles, who got 27 saves from Cash Ulrich.

De Frias had a goal and three assists on Saturday, and Tomassetti and Travis Herlein each scored twice. Kevin Neilsen also scored in the victory, Rigby Burgart had two assists and Mainprize turned aside 25 shots.

Ryan Pajimola had the goal for the Eagles. Jason Greenwell made 45 saves.

The WolfPack is to play host to the Selkirk Saints on Friday, 8:30 p.m., at Memorial Arena.

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca


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