Brent Mutis, Sport Information & Compliance Officer
Emma Cunningham's 26 points, including four-three pointers, paved the way for the Capilano Blues in their home-opening 59-46 win over Langara.
Cunningham signaled early on that she was in for a big night as she drilled threes on three straight possessions in the first quarter. Late in the game, she hit another trey and helped out on defence with a couple of steals at the back of the Blues press to seal the deal for the home side.
"She was big-time," said Blues head coach Chris Weimer. "In a game where we didn't shoot the ball as a team very well, she really stepped up and she was lights out. We needed the boost, we needed all that kind of stuff for momentum and she was there for that. She's a leader."
Heading into Friday's game, Weimer knew his team would have their hands full with Langara's forwards Steph Von Riedemann, Emma Jones and Meagan Briggs who check in a 5'11", 5'10" and 5'11" respectively. Capilano's tallest player, Mackenzie Smith, had her minutes limited due to a nagging injury so it was a by-committee approach from Blues small forwards Devon Wood, Martha Melaku and Georgia Nelson that was used to keep Langara in check.
"They knew they were going to have to come in and play some heavy minutes against some bigger and maybe even stronger players so they knew it coming in and we prepared them a little bit in the week leading up to the game," said Weimer. "It hurt us a bit but that's one of the reasons we went zone."
Weimer threw a number of defensive looks at the Falcons Friday night, including an effective press for much of the fourth quarter when Capilano held the visitors to just two points as they took control of the game.
"I wasn't sure if I was going to bring it out tonight but I knew that they were a slower team with slower bigs so we didn't want to get into a speedy game with them," said Weimer. "We haven't actually played much of that press or much zone historically here, but the girls did a great job with it today."
Another bit of good news for the Blues was the return to the lineup of point guard Simrat Dosanjh who did not play on the team's season-opening road trip to Vancouver Island. Dosanjh scored her first points of the season with a second-half three-pointer and said watching from the sideline last weekend gave her a good idea of where she needed to contribute.
"Two things that we were really struggling on is rebounding, defensively and offensively, and getting into our offence," said the third-year human kinetics student. "Just being able to make sure my team's in offence and that we're rebounding on both sides, was what I was (focused on) going into this game."
Dosanjh was happy to be back in the lineup but had to shake a few cobwebs early on.
"I knew I was rusty the minute I got to the free throw line and missed both because last year I was 100 per cent for the season," she said. "When I saw that first shot go in, it was kind of like a relief, like 'OK I can shoot the ball' but that first two and half quarters, it was hard."
Of Cunningham's night, Dosanjh said even though her teammate is known as a scorer it was especially impressive to see her rack up points from beyond the arc, drawing defenders out and then going past them in penetration.
"Watching her offensively, she's so smart. She knows when to take her shot, she knows when to drive. And when she drives, her body positioning to get that layup, it's amazing because she's not the quickest person on the court. She slows down, she uses the defenders weaknesses against her. You love that when a teammate hits three in a row, it just brings up the momentum. Emma's great at that."
Next up for the Blues is a road game Nov. 16 at Columbia Bible College. The next home action is a Friday-Saturday set with Okanagan paying a visit to the Centre for Sport and Wellness Nov. 22 and 23.