VIU Mariners player Olivia Mjaaland puts up a layup overtop of Quest Kermodes opponents during Thursday’s game at the PacWest championships at the Vancouver Island University gym. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

VIU women win tournament opener

Mariners defeat Quest Kermodes 57-47 to advance to semifinals

VIU’s women’s basketball team tipped off the tournament the right way and is through to the semifinals.

The VIU Mariners defeated the Quest Kermodes 57-47 on Thursday afternoon in the first game of the PacWest championships at the Vancouver Island University gym.

The contest was close at halftime, with VIU leading by two points, but the home team had a hot start to the third quarter and kept the Kermodes at bay the rest of the way.

“That’s playoff basketball. They’ve played us tough every game this year…” said Tony Bryce, VIU coach. “I wasn’t expecting a blowout on either side; I knew it would be a tight game to the end. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a win and you move on.”

He said things started to go the Mariners’ way when the team upped its pace of play.

“I think we recognized that we needed to play with more tempo, that we were deeper and we could get up the floor in transition and maybe get some looks early and kind of try to force them to run,” the coach said.

Kaitlyn LaFontaine, VIU fifth-year player, said the Mariners brought passion and energy but at the same time, tried to play their game.

“I think that what we do best is stick to what we know, and we just tried to maintain the tempo and have it in our control,” she said.

Danielle Vanbergen was chosen player of the game as she scored 15 points, while Emma Platner scored 14 to go with eight assists. Emily Clarke grabbed 11 rebounds.

Notably, the game was delayed more than half an hour after a fire alarm at the VIU gym before tipoff; a popcorn machine in the lobby was the culprit.

No. 3-seeded VIU advances to take on the No. 2-seeded Capilano Blues on Friday in the semifinals.

“We’ve got to be mentally and physically engaged every possession against Cap,” said Bryce. “You have to; they’re just too good a basketball team.”

GAME ON … Friday’s semifinal between VIU and Cap tips off at 1 p.m. at the VIU gym. In men’s action, the Mariners play their semifinal Friday at 8 p.m. against a to-be-determined opponent.

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