The Brandon University Bobcats women’s basketball team have been waiting a long time to finally play in the new Healthy Living Centre.
On Saturday they finally got their chance and put forward one of their best performances of the season.
The Bobcats, who opened the Canada West season with five straight road games, came out with a lot of energy on Saturday, but ultimately fell 71-53 to the visiting Winnipeg Wesmen.
Despite dropping to 0-6 on the season, fourth-year forward Chantel Gaslard was happy with her team’s effort.
"We actually came to play," said Gaslard, who had nine points and six rebounds for Brandon. "It was very exciting for us to play in our home gym for the first time. You can’t complain about the effort. They just got a few runs ahead of us. We’ll battle back."
BU head coach Novell Thomas also saw a huge improvement in his team. Since the players first got together in training camp, the rookie head coach has been trying to get them to buy into his offensive system. He saw a step in the right direction on Saturday as Brandon had a very balanced attack.
Gaslard was joined by Aimee Johnston — who suffered a bruised cheekbone during the game — and Jaynell Gillett by scoring nine points and third-year point guard Carrera Lamoureux was right behind with seven. Brandon native Tia Coulter had 10 points and seven rebounds for Winnipeg. She also scored the first basket at the HLC in conference play.
However, it was the Brandon’s struggles under the net that really worried Thomas. The Wesmen (2-4) had 20 more rebounds than the Bobcats, and 24 of their 53 boards came on the offensive end of the court. Thomas knows if his team is going to have any success, then that is one thing it needs to clean up.
"It’s a big concern for us, especially when we have three post players out there," he said. "They’re out there to get rebounds. If they’re not rebounding the ball and we’re giving up offensive rebounds, it’s too many possessions we’re giving our opponents."
Thomas also pointed out that his team needs to be more consistent and not let its foot off the gas, but he feels there are a lot of positive things to build off of as the team prepares for next weekend’s road games against the UBC-Okanagan Heat (2-4) on Friday and the Thompson Rivers WolfPack (4-2) on Saturday.
Gaslard agrees and believes that Bobcat fans may not recognize the team in a few weeks.
"We’re going to get stronger and we’re going to end up getting that win and it’s going to be wonderful," she said. "There’s always things teams can work on and once we work on ours, it’s going to be a new Bobcat team."