After opening the pre-season campaign with seven straight wins, the UBC Okanagan Heat women’s basketball team suffered their first losses at the historic 51st annual Naismith Classic in Waterloo, Ont.
The Heat, coached by Vernon’s Bobby Mitchell, opened with a 69-62 win over the host University of Waterloo Warriors, but then fell 79-72 to the St. Mary’s Huskies and 66-50 to the Laurier Golden Hawks.
When you add those results to the rest of their preseason schedule, Mitchell’s squad is 7-2 and is primed and ready for the Canada West conference season to begin.
Rookie Jaeli Ibbetson continued her strong performances this pre-season with her game-high 18 points against the hosts. She added nine boards as well in her 35 minutes against the Warriors.
The Heat found themselves down (32-28) at the half but were guided to victory by fifth-year senior Jordan Korol of Coldstream, who put up 12 second-half points off of six of seven shooting from the field.
Kelsey Falk of Vernon added eight points for UBCO, Mackenzie Horst of Vernon chipped in two points and Falk’s sister Brianna did not play.
On Friday the Heat dropped a close match to the Huskies as Korol continued her dominance with 19 points with 19 boards for the double-double. Kelsey Falk had 12 points and Horst was kept off the scoresheet.
The Heat ended their preseason against the Golden Hawks. With the early start time and the third match in as many days coach Mitchell was more democratic with the playing time. Ten players saw the floor for more than double digits in minutes played. Korol finished with nine points and five boards, Horst had seven points and Kelsey Falk contributed three points.
“The preseason was great for us to grow and learn how to play together,” said Mitchell. “We were able to get lots of feedback of what we need to do better.”
With rookies Kelsey Falk, Lucy Faba, and Jaeli Ibbetson having solid showcases through nine exhibition games, it has coach Mitchell excited.
“There are many positives about our preseason but what stands out is how much we have grown especially our youth,” said Mitchell. “Everyone is finding their role and doing everything they can to contribute.”
Falk shot (11-14) over the course of the tournament for 23 points. Faba started all three games for the Heat and played a total of 75 minutes. Ibbetson recorded 36 points and 21 boards in the three games.
Heading into the regular season, the Heat will be looking to carry confidence from their seven wins this preseason.
“Our compete level has been very high and consistent, this group loves to work hard and it will always give us a chance to be in games,” said Mitchell.
UBCO open their Canada West regular-season schedule on Nov. 1, but they will be on the road in Manitoba for back to back games against the Bisons.
The Heat’s home-opener is on Friday, Nov. 8 with a special 10:30 a.m. tip-off time. They host the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in what will be scored in the Presidents’ Cup competition between the schools.
Vernon’s Megan Rouault is currently out of the TRU lineup, recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in pre-season.