Dinos trade blows with Pandas to start year

By Scott Lepp

With the loss of the Lady Dinos all-time leading scorer and All-Canadian Leighann Doan, one could only expect a rebuilding year. That’s not the case.

The 2001/02 version of the women’s basketball team looks good. Head Coach Shawnee Harle is quick to point out her team’s upside.

"Our biggest strength is our athleticism," he said. "We have to be quick and be able to beat teams up and down the floor."

That’s exactly what the Dinos did on Friday night’s regular season opener at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium against their rivals, the University of Alberta Pandas.

Calgary came out on all cylinders led by floor general Natalie Hudec’s ball control and first-year guard Tanya Hautala’s hot shooting from beyond the arc. Laura Jablonski and Cori Bekkering took care of business on the inside propelling the Dinos to a quick lead. The Pandas didn’t have an answer for anything Calgary threw at them as the Dinos took home a 75-68 victory.

Anna Bekkering was uns-toppable: she slashed her way through the lane and poured in a game-high 23 points in addition to her seven boards. Hautala scored 16 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the outside. Christine Shewchuk’s 16 points led the Pandas.

"We were very aggressive at both ends of the floor," said Harle of Friday night’s battle. "Our team showed a lot of unity and belief, our rookies really stepped up to the plate."

Saturday night’s game was a barn-burner, in which neither team could solve the other for the first 40 minutes of the game. The first half went back and forth en route to a score of 31-31. The Dinos had a chance to take the victory in regulation but were unable to get a shot off leaving the count even at 55 apiece. The Pandas dominated in overtime and outscored Calgary 15-7 which secured the victory and a split of the weekend series.

Hudec and Anna Bekkering’s 17 and 11 points respectively led the Dinos, while Shewchuk led the Pandas for the second straight game with 20 points. Despite the loss coach Harle remains optimistic, especially of her team’s defense.

"It’s still early," she explained. "We’re going to be good at pressing, trapping, and zoning."

As far as Harle’s expectations for the season, they don’t differ much from last year’s goals.

"I want to finish first in our division, top three in playoffs, and win the National Championship. All three are attainable."

Beyond the Arc:

The Dinos played the entire weekend without two of their top guards, Jen Goldade and Jen Elford. When those two return, look out.

As for the rest of the team, they travel south for a Nov. 9-10 matchup against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.

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