Brent Mutis, CapU Sport Information & Compliance Officer
Of all the teams impacted by COVID-19 this season, the CapU Blues women's basketball team was dealt the cruelest outcome.
Having just qualified for the CCAA national championship tournament in Nanaimo, B.C. as the second qualifier from PACWEST conference, the chance to compete for a national title was taken away and the coaches and players were left wondering what might have been.
Just days before their departure for Nanaimo, the CCAA made the difficult but correct choice to cancel the national tournaments for both men's and women's basketball.
Up to that point, the Blues hadn't been disappointed too often in the 2019-20 campaign. At 15-3, they were the No. 2 team in the PACWEST standings and were the only team in the conference to defeat the No. 1 Vancouver Island University Mariners. The Blues never had a losing streak of more than a game and they won six straight heading to the postseason.
In the fall portion of the schedule, the Blues posted a 6-2 mark highlighted by a 26-point outing from Emma Cunningham in a 59-46 home-opener win Nov. 8 over Langara. In January, the lineup was bolstered by the addition of 6-foot-2 transfer Kate Mallette and the return of senior guard Sherrie Errico who missed the first half of the season with injury.
In January and February, the Blues racked up a 9-1 record helped by the return to form of senior guard Reiko Ohama. The Kamloops product scored 48 points in a weekend split with VIU January 25 and 26.
CapU wrapped the regular season with a road sweep of Langara and entered the playoffs, which they hosted at the Centre for Sport and Wellness, as the No. 2 seed and had a bye into the semifinals.
The Blues faced the Douglas College Royals in the semis and despite shooting just 26.1 per cent from the field, grinded out a 54-39 win to advance to the gold medal game against VIU. The Blues shooting touch remained elusive and in another defensive struggle, they came out on the short end of a 60-53 score despite 20 points from Ohama who played through a separated shoulder.
Still, they would have gone to nationals as PACWEST had two berths this year.
Guard Alanya Davignon was named to the PACWEST All-Rookie Team
Reiko Ohama finished her Blues career in style and goes out third all-time in points (854) and fifth all-time in assists (136).
Emma Cunningham capped off her collegiate career in a leadership role for the Blues and started 16 of 17 regular-season games. A versatile athlete, she was capable of leading the team in any statistical category any given game.
Sherrie Errico missed the first half of the season rehabilitating an injury but made an impact upon returning, leading the Blues in scoring in just her third game back. She finishes her Blues career fifth all-time in points (798), 12th in rebounds (242) and fifth in assists (136).
"It's awesome; it's always great coming back to Victoria, there's so much love here. My family, friends, even girls I coach. It was just super awesome for everyone to come back and see me play one more time."
- Emma Cunningham after leading the Blues to an opening-night win Nov. 1 at Camosun in her home town of Victoria
"We grinded out a tough but satisfying road win. It's been close to five years since we last beat the Royals in league play in their gym... safe to say it was a relief to get that monkey off our back."
- head coach Chris Weimer after a Blues victory at Douglas College in the second game back after the holiday and exam break
"I'm still disappointed for the girls, especially the seniors. They worked their whole career to get the chance."
- assistant coach Jenn Bodnar after the CCAA nationals were canceled