Blues earn weekend sweep, remain atop PACWEST

Fifth-year forward Carmelle M'Bikata. Photo Paul Yates / Vancouver Sports Pictures
Fifth-year forward Carmelle M'Bikata. Photo Paul Yates / Vancouver Sports Pictures

The Capilano University Blues women’s basketball survived late pressure from the Camosun College Chargers on Saturday afternoon, as CapU persevered to earn a 72-68 victory. It’s Capilano’s fifth-straight win, and it keeps them atop the PACWEST at 11-3.

Both sides got out to strong offensive starts, finding good looks in the paint and converting from in close. After Camosun built up an early lead, the Blues started to chip away by ramping up their defensive pressure and crashing on the offensive boards. The visitors led 21-19 after the first frame, but Capilano held the Chargers to just nine points in the second quarter to build up a six-point lead at halftime.

Zuzia Zdziechowski and Carmelle M’Bikata both had four offensive rebounds and nine points in the opening half, and CapU ended up limiting Camosun to a 27.8 field goal percentage over the opening 20 minutes.

Camosun maintained consistent pressure on Capilano throughout the second half, and cut the deficit to a one-possession game at several moments. Yet the Blues always found an answer, as while they didn’t have their best game shooting from beyond the arc, they hit timely shots. Both Sherrie Errico and Reiko Ohama hit triples in the fourth quarter to restore six-point advantages.

The Chargers finally broke through with one minute to play, and took their first lead of the half at 65-64 on a pair of free throws. Capilano came and answered back, as Ashley dela Cruz Yip drove hard to the hoop and converted a lay-in plus the foul to put the team back up by two with 48.5 seconds left. The Blues then forced a steal, but after failing to turn it into any points, Camosun drew a foul and hit one of two shots – making it 67-66 with 15.4 seconds left.

Camosun fouled Dela Cruz Yip to put her on the line, and she hit both free throws to regain Capilano’s three-point lead. Camosun answered right back with a lay-up from Jasmine de Vries, and fouled dela Cruz Yip again with 9.4 seconds left. The fifth-year hit one of two shots, making it 70-68.

Capilano forced a missed lay-up on Camosun’s last possession, and after Mackenzie Smith secured the rebound and was fouled, she hit both her free throws to ice a 72-68 victory.

"Our focus has been to be more consistent on the defensive end and communicate better as a team," said head coach Ramin Sadaghiani. "I thought we did a very good job of that as a team, which translated into a couple of wins against a very good team."

M’Bikata had a strong game inside with a game-high 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Zdziechowski also had a double-double with 11 and 11. Capilano held Camosun to 28.4 percent shooting from the floor and a 27.3 mark from beyond the arc, and recorded eight steals – with Emma Cunningham tallying four. The Blues made only nine turnovers, compared to 11 assists.

The win keeps the Blues atop the PACWEST at 11-3, and gives them a 2-1 edge in their season series with Camosun. With four games left in the regular season, the Blues now head into a bye week and then face Langara on the road twice and host third place Douglas College on February 16 and 17.