CALGARY, Alta – The UBC Okanagan Heat made their way to Kenyon Court on Friday night to tip-off a weekend series with the Mount Royal University Cougars. The Cougars come off two straight weeks on the road, after series against Manitoba and Trinity Western.
The Cougars were able to come away with their first win of the season, beating the Heat 73-62. They found success on the defensive end, forcing the Heat into 24 turnovers.
Maddison Hooper was the leading scorer for the Cougars with 21 points. Charity Marlatt also made a huge impact, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds, six of which came on the offensive end. MRU made nine threes in the game, forcing the Heat to guard them all over the floor.
The Heat were led by Jordan Korol who finished with a double-double, scoring 26 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. Ana Evans also made her impact all over the floor, finishing with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists.
The two teams came out of the gates on fire. The Cougars made three three-pointers in the first three minutes and started to control the game with an aggressive attack and their ability to keep offensive possessions alive off the glass.
Hooper's hot shooting accounted for 11 of the Cougars' first quarter as she knocked down three three-pointers and put pressure on the Heat defense from outside.
The Cougars finished the quarter with six made threes and continued grabbing offensive rebounds left and right through the first 10 minutes, as they led 31-15 heading into the second quarter.
The second quarter started with a Heat run that saw them chip into the Cougars lead, but MRU responded strong, using their full-court defense to force some turnovers and convert the resulting opportunities into points.
After a made three-pointer from Alesha Stanley in the final minute, the Cougars took a 13-point lead into the halftime break.
The Cougars had points scored from nine of their players in the first half, as they got their whole team involved on offense. The team also had 12 offensive rebounds, eight steals and forced 12 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
Korol led the Heat at halftime as she had 12 points and six rebounds. She made her impact finishing well inside and getting to the free-throw line.
The Cougars came out of the break and continued to control the game. They went on a 9-3 run to start the third. Their aggressive defense helped them get out in transition and take advantage of their opportunities on the open floor.
Despite the Cougars growing their lead, Korol was able to keep the Heat in reach by scoring nine points in the first five minutes of the quarter. The Heat were able to respond and cut into the Cougar lead. After Claire Feasby scored five straight points, the Heat cut their deficit to seven heading into the final 10 minutes.
The Heat kept attacking right into the final quarter and were able to slowly cut the Cougars lead until it was a one-possession game with less than five minutes to go.
The Cougars responded by increasing their defensive pressure and keeping the Heat off the scoreboard while rebuilding their lead.
In the end, the Heat couldn't overcome the Cougars attack and their comeback effort fell short. The Cougars got big baskets down the stretch from Maria Blanco and Jordan Blaskin that helped them seal their victory in the final minutes of the game.
The series continues Saturday afternoon at Kenyon Court. Tip-off is at 4 p.m. MDT and can be streamed live on canadawest.tv.
Zachary Worden, Cougars Athletics