The Canada West Universities Athletic Union and the Great Plains Athletic Conference, boast some of the best women’s basketball teams in the country. How good are the teams? Seven of the top 10 ranked teams in Canada are among the 11 teams in the CWUAA or GPAC, which are essentially one conference now that they’ve started crossing over.
That’s the kind of competition the Dinos are facing. The Dinos have the talent to keep up with the rest of the conference, and last weekend was their first opportunity to see exactly how they stack up.
The Dinos played the University of Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg and came home with a split that moved them from ninth to eighth place in the national rankings.
On Friday the Dinos pulled together a 79-75 overtime victory over the Bisons, with Leighann Doan providing 40 points and nine rebounds.
"It was one of those games when we had lots of good mixed with lots of bad," recapped coach Shawnee Harle. "We went from being in the lead for a lot of the game to down 14 points with eight minutes to go. "We had control for the last two minutes, then they launched a prayer at the buzzer that banked off the glass and went in."
Ordinarily, such a shot would bring despair to a coach, but Harle’s players turned that reaction around.
"The part I like about it was that when the buzzer went off and I joined the huddle, they were saying things like, ‘Now we can beat them by more,’" said Harle. "As soon as I heard that, I knew we’d win the overtime."
While 40 points might be extraordinary, Doan is an extraordinary player, so Harle didn’t spend a lot of time extrapolating on her star’s performance.
"Leighann played a very solid game on both ends of the floor."
On Saturday, things didn’t come together as nicely, with the Bisons winning 73-67.
"We just couldn’t get anything going," lamented Harle. "We couldn’t get any breaks. I’m a believer that you make your own breaks, but we weren’t working hard enough to make that happen."
Harle attributed the loss to her team’s effort, rather than to the Bisons being a better team.
"We had the talent to win both games," she said. "We just didn’t play well enough to win both games."
The brightest spot in the loss was the play of fourth-year guard Linnae Bee who had a game-high 22 points and a team-high five assists. Doan contributed 20 points.
"Linnae carried us on Saturday," said Harle. "She’s in a new positions as our starting point guard and she did a great job for us. She was the one on Saturday who really gave us the spark."
Bee noted that Doan’s performance on Friday helped clear the floor for her own show on Saturday.
"The coaches said before the game that they’d probably focus on [Doan]," Bee said. "And I’m coming out of a slump from all last year."
Although it’s early in the season, Bee suggests that the Dinos’ talent will take them far.
"I don’t want to jinx us, but I think we can go all the way," she said. "We have all the pieces, we just have to put them together. We have to go out and play hard if we want to go all the way. We’re in a tough conference."
Harle acknowledges the tough conference as one of the Dinos’ advantages.
"What a great opportunity–we’ll be playing a ranked team almost every weekend," said Harle. "That’s how you get better: by playing good teams."
The Dinos will face perhaps the best of those teams this weekend in the form of the number-one ranked University of Victoria Vikes. The games will be played Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium.