During her two-and-a-half years with the Brandon University Bobcats women’s basketball team, Kaela Cranston had not been able to win a Canada West game in the Wheat City. That all changed on Saturday night, and she was a big reason for it.
The 5-foot-11 guard from Winnipeg hit six three-pointers and scored 25 points as the Bobcats beat the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat 70-63 at the Healthy Living Centre. The win snapped BU’s 40-game drought in conference play on home court.
"It feels really good," said Cranston, who was still in high school in Winnipeg when the Bobcats last won at home when they beat the Calgary Dinos 75-66 on Feb. 5, 2010. "I’m happy we could do it in front of them. They’ve all been such great support. For us to win in front of them means a lot."
The Bobcats (3-9) got off to a slow start on Saturday, but played solid defence to build three-point advantages after the first and second quarters. The Heat (2-10) battled back in the second half and held a 60-53 advantage with six minutes left before the Bobcats rallied.
Cassie Cooke scored eight of her 21 points in the final six minutes, with Cranston adding seven, and the Bobcats forced a number of shot clock violations and turnovers to earn the win.
It was a much-improved finish for the Bobcats than in Friday’s three-point loss to the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.
"There was six minutes left and maybe we could have just packed it in and we didn’t," said Bobcats head coach Novell Thomas. "We kept digging in and we kept fighting and we hit shots and got defensive stops, and that’s what happened."
Stephanie Haynes added 10 points for Brandon. Shenelle Tamminen led UBCO with 18.
Saturday’s contest was the second of a five-game home stand for the Bobcats, which continues on Friday when the Manitoba Bisons (3-9) visit BU.
The Bobcats beat the Bisons in pre-season, but both teams have improved a lot since then. Regardless, Cranston hopes Saturday is the beginning of her team getting on a roll.
"I’m not going to make any predictions, but I think if we come out and play like we did tonight, especially at the end, then we could definitely get some wins," she said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 13, 2014