Brandon Bobcats' post Nicisha Johnson watches as Alex Vieweg of the UBC T-Birds tumbles in women's basketball action Friday. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
It's about baby steps and small victories for these Brandon University Bobcats.
In a season filled with injuries and losses, the BU women's basketball team will certainly take a moral victory and Friday night it got one in a 64-51 Canada West conference defeat at the hands of the No. 12-ranked UBC Thunderbirds at the BU Gymnasium.
The Bobcats led 17-15 after the first quarter and trailed just 31-26 at halftime. But a third-quarter lull, in which they went scoreless for more than six minutes, was the chief conspirator in sending the Bobcats to their 15th loss in 15 games.
Amanda Fortin had 10 points and four assists for the Bobcats, who carried a noticeable defensive intensity in the first half and got the most out of their offence than they have arguably all season.
"We played defence for 40 minutes instead of in spurts and that's something we've been working on," the fourth-year forward said. "We've been working on seeing people instead of just seeing yourself (on offence) and working on new systems and trying to make them work."
Fortin even had a rare four-point play in the fourth quarter as the Bobcats whittled a 19-point deficit down to 13 and won the fourth 18-12.
"I think we moved the ball better and I think the girls are getting more comfortable having a little pressure and being able to play against it," interim BU head coach Ritchie Jacobson said. "We've gotta be able to compete and get to spots on the floor and I thought we did a good job of that."
Liz St. Pierre had 17 points to lead the Thunderbirds (12-5), who won their ninth straight conference contest. Six-foot-2 post Alex Vieweg added 13 points and nine rebounds and Zara Huntley had 10 points.
Huntley, the 6-foot-2 UBC leading scorer who has experience with two Canadian national teams, fouled out and, for the most part, Brandon did an admirable job on UBC's bigs primarily playing a 2-3 zone and sagging off the perimeter on to UBC's interior.
"We talked about that: Can we bump cutters? Can we play them physical? They're very talented ,but do they like the physical side of it," Jacobson said. "We've gotta pick our poison: Beat us from where you shoot 30 per cent, not from where you shoot 60 or 70."
Anxious for a positive this season, Fortin said the team needs to bring that same intensity on a more regular basis.
"They're a ranked team, so we showed we can do it, we showed that we need to battle every night, not just against the ranked teams but the teams we can take we need to take," she said.
Tonight's rematch is at 6 o'clock.
AND ONE -- The Bobcats played without starting freshman SG, and leading scorer, Madison Bradbury, who had an eye infection.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 22, 2011 B3