The VIU Mariners have shown they can play high-calibre basketball, and it’s only the pre-season.
Vancouver Island University’s women’s basketball team earned an exhibition win this past weekend against the Fraser Valley Cascades, a U-Sports-level opponent. The Mariners beat the Cascades 80-77 in overtime Saturday night at the VIU gym, though they dropped a rematch 65-50 the following afternoon.
“That’s just a great pre-season game. You can’t ask for a better game than that in the pre-season,” said Tony Bryce, coach of the Mariners women. “I want games that are going to make us understand how hard we have to play to be a championship-calibre team.”
The Mariners were able to keep pace all the way and then hit their free throws when they needed to.
“They made a couple runs and if you have a lapse, it can be over against a team that’s that well-coached and that good, but we hung in mentally and physically for the full 45,” Bryce said.
Danielle Vanbergen, who led the M’s with 27 points, said her team was just trying to play its game, work hard, and improve from one game to the next.
“Every time they would make a run, we just came back and made our own. That’s all we needed to do,” she said.
Vanbergen said the team’s progression has been “really good,” with new players fitting in and everyone willing to learn new things.
“It just shows how much work we’ve been putting in in the pre-season and the summer,” she said. “I think a lot more people got after it this summer and it’s paying off.”
Bryce said players reported early, which allowed the team to “ramp it up” early.
“I think we’re ahead of where we were in a couple places last year and that’s credit to our veterans helping some of the younger players along,” he said. “It’s been good. There’s a ton of work to do.”
Emma Platner scored 15 points in the win and Victoria Brown added 11. Shayce Johnston had six rebounds, Amber Lease had six assists and Olivia Mjaaland had five steals.
GAME ON … The Mariners women host the Corban Warriors of the NAIA for games Saturday, Oct. 20, at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. at the VIU gym.