Set out the main course

Trinity Western was just another appetizer.

The main course for the Dinos women’s basketball team is still to come, in the form of the University of Regina Cougars.

Last weekend, the Dinos hosted the Trinity Western University Spartans, their third non-competitive opponent in the last three weeks. Needless to say, the Dinos slaughtered the Spartans, winning 110-60 on Friday and 87-41 on Saturday. The two wins brought the Dinos’ conference winning streak to 14 games.

"The thing I was most impressed with [on Saturday] was our defence," said coach Shawnee Harle. "On Friday we had great offence, but we know that defence wins championships."

Because TWU was expected to be only a minor challenge for the Dinos, the highlights of the weekend were found in places other than the win column.

Leighann Doan scored 59 points over the two games and moved past Janis Paskevich (now Macdonald) to claim second place on the Dinos’ all time scoring list. Alison McGinn sent a long pass down the court to a streaking Doan, who had a clear path to the hoop and made no mistake. A timeout was called immediately after the play to honour Doan and Macdonald.

"Even when they called the timeout, I had no clue it was for me until Shawnee pushed me back out," said Doan. "You get so caught up in the game."

The record was broken in the Red Gym, where the Dinos played to make room for a gymnastics event in the Jack Simpson Gym. Macdonald, when she played as Janis Paskevich, dominated the Red Gym during the years (1977-82) that she played for the Dinos.

"I think it’s silly," said Macdonald. "It’s about time someone broke it. It’s nice to be recognized, but it was such a long time ago."

Paskevich is now a teacher/basketball coach at a Calgary high school.

Also in attendance was Doan’s older brother Shane, a Phoenix Coyote who took advantage of the NHL All-Star Break to catch his sister in action for the first time in eight years.

"I left home when I was 15," said Shane, standing by as Leighann signed autographs. "In the NHL, we don’t get a lot of time off, and at the All-star Break, she’s usually not playing."

"I was relaxed," said Leighann. "I didn’t give much thought to it, but it was nice to have him there. I didn’t feel pressured to perform for him."

While Doan was bringing her career total to 1,474 points, a fellow player was seeing her first action as a Dino. Sarah Howard has dressed for the last few games, but didn’t get any court time until last Friday.

"It was a whole lot of fun," said Howard. "The other players made it comfortable for me; they were supportive, they shared my enthusiasm."

A first-year Dino, Howard came to the team from the strong program in Salmon Arm, b.c. where she won a provincial high school championship in grade 11.

"[I came to the U of C] for the basketball program," explained Howard. "I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do."

Admittedly, it hasn’t been easy for Howard to stick with the team without seeing any court time.

"It’s tough, but I’m in my first year, so I didn’t expect too much. It’s awesome just to watch the team play well, and getting to practice with them."

In her first appearance with the Dinos, Howard chalked up an impressive seven points in only five minutes. She insisted that her teammates weren’t trying to help her put up numbers.

"I was just in the right place at the right time," she said. "It could have been anyone."

In both games against TWU, all 12 Dinos who dressed scored at least two points.

"We’re playing very well right now," said Harle. "Everything seems to be coming together. We also know that the last three weekends are not the standard that we’re going to judge ourselves on."

For the Dinos to reach the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championships, they’ll have to get by teams of a higher calibre than TWU The Dinos face the Cougars this weekend in their last test before the playoffs. The teams the Dinos are most likely to face in the play-offs–the University of Alberta Pandas, the University of Victoria Vikes or the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds–are all of a higher quality than the last three teams the Dinos have beaten.

"We need to make Regina play a half-court game," stated Harle. "Their strengths are similar to ours; they get up and down the court very well and score a lot of points in transition.

"I think the key against Regina is whichever team is most able to play the style they want to is going to win. The flipside of that is which ever team defense can stop the other team from playing the way they want to play is going to win."

Saturday’s game will be Cathy Payne’s last regular season game in a Dinos uniform. Payne returned to the Dinos this season after taking a year off to travel and started every game. Her outside shooting and passing have been keys in the Dinos’ offence, the best in the Canada West conference. If the voters have any sense, Payne will join Doan as a Canada West all-star this year.

The Dinos play on Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Jack Simpson Gym.

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