Wolves suffer King’s-sized losses
January 20, 2010
TERRY FARRELL – Herald-Tribune staff
The Grande Prairie Regional College women's basketball Wolves discovered two things over the weekend:
1) They are not a top-15 team, and
2) They are not far from it.
The Wolves hosted King's University College Eagles, ranked No. 15 in the nation, in a weekend doubleheader, and while the Eagles returned to Edmonton with a pair of wins to show for their road trip, neither was easy.
The Eagles trailed after the first half in both contests.
Friday they rallied from a 31-26 halftime deficit to win 61-48 – aided in large part to a 15-3 run to start the fourth quarter.
"I just told them that this Grande Prairie team is a tough team and they are not going to go away, so we have to bear down and make it work for us," said King's coach Peter Sambu.
"I have to tip my hat to this Grande Prairie team. They are a very, very well-coached team and very talented. They will be a formidable opponent down the stretch."
"Friday's game was all about second-half shooting," said Wolves coach Dave Waknuk. "They (Eagles) shot 62% from the field in the second half. We shot 18%. That's the game right there.
"Basketball's a game of bounces and we just weren't getting them in the second half. We battled hard but in the fourth quarter we just couldn't get the ball in the basket, no matter what we did."
Saturday the Wolves led 31-29 at the break before falling 57-50.
Saturday's score was somewhat deceiving: The Wolves had two chances to tie it in the last minute of play.
A 5-0 run with two minutes to play made it a 52-50 score. The Wolves picked up a defensive rebound off a missed Eagles shot with one minute remaining and moved it up-court, but missed the tying basket.
The Eagles missed another opportunity to add to their lead and the Wolves had possession once again, with 30 seconds remaining, but rushed a pass and the ball went out of bounds.
From there it was a matter of playing the foul game.
The Eagles went to the line with 17 seconds to play and Meachel Carnahan nailed both freebies to give the Eagles a four-point lead. They drained another three free throws in the dying seconds.
"Meach is a fourth-year player and we expect that from our leaders," said Sambu of the clutch shooting by Carnahan with the game on the line. "Our leaders have been stepping up for us all year and hopefully we can ride that all the way to a championship."
"I'm very proud of the way my girls played this weekend, particularly today," said Waknuk after Saturday's game. "The girls played hard, left everything on the floor and that's all I could ask for as a coach."
Sambu said the close games were expected and he was just happy to come away with two victories, considering how rarely his squad actually has to leave Edmonton for a basketball series.
With four of the seven ACAC North teams in Edmonton, and another just an hour away, in Camrose, the Eagles only have two bona-fide road trips each regular season – Grande Prairie and Lloydminster (Lakeland College).
"The toughest place to win in college sport is on the road," he said. "I told them that to go up to Grande Prairie and win two, we'd be lucky to do that."
"That's a great team, great coaching, and we gave them everything they could handle," said Waknuk. "With me coming in halfway through the season, we're looking at this as a short season, a 12-game season. Our goal is to improve every time out and I feel like we're doing that. We were better today than we were for Friday's game and we will be even better next weekend."
The Wolves host the 1-14 NAIT Ooks in a rare Saturday-Sunday series next weekend.
Waknuk does not want his girls to take the Ooks lightly.
"They are a much better team than their record indicates, because of a couple of additions they made over the break," he said.
Katarina Fialova was the high scorer for the Wolves women on Friday with 17 points – the eighth time she has hit double digits in 15 games this season. Andria Carlyon had 21 to lead the Wolves on Saturday. Jaelle Buhler reached double digits in both games, with 12 on Friday and 15 Saturday.
"Jaelle has been awesome for us all year," said Waknuk. "As she goes, we go."