All season long the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team has been led by their Big 2 — Debbie Yeboah and Cassandra Goodis.
But last weekend in Winnipeg, Jessica Renfrew gave notice that the Vikes now have a Big 3. Renfrew’s back-to-back 20-plus point games against the Wesmen and Bisons helped earn her Canada West female athlete-of-the-week honours.
It has taken two-and-a-half seasons but Renfrew has finally blossomed into the dominant outside forward that the Vikes’ coaching staff knew she could be after coming over from two impressive seasons with the Claremont Spartans. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time as the Vikes get set to host the No. 2-ranked team in the country — the University of Regina Cougars. The Cougars come into McKinnon Gym tonight sporting a near-perfect 11-1 record.
“[The Cougars] quite easily could be No. 1 in the country,” said Vikes coach Dani Sinclair, as she prepped her 8-4 Vikes for tonight’s contest against Regina and Saturday’s against the Brandon Bobcats. “They are talented, deep and experienced with several players having played at nationals recently so we’ll have to be on top of our game.
“Fortunately, we are playing pretty well right now, especially Jessica who is coming off a great weekend.”
Renfrew poured in 21 points in the victory over Winnipeg, and then added another 23 against Manitoba to help propel the Vikes back into the CIS top-10 rankings at No. 9. And the point parade also moved Renfrew into 16th place in conference scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game, also second best on the Vikes behind Yeboah’s 18.4.
“Jessica has really been solid since Day 1 of the season, but now she seems to be playing with a lot more confidence at both ends of the floor so we’re not surprised she starting to put up some good numbers,” Sinclair said.
Renfrew was a two-sport star at Claremont, leading the Spartans soccer team to a provincial title in her senior year, but right now her focus is on the basketball court and the Vikes are reaping the benefit.
“I’m just having a lot of fun playing in coach Dani’s system, which allows me to really play aggressively and look to score whenever possible,” said Renfrew, whose .500 field-goal percentage is tops on the team and 10th in the conference.
And Renfrew, who’s in her third year of UVic’s child and youth care program, says her team is well aware of what Regina brings to the table.
“Oh, they’re a really good team at both ends of the floor so we’re going to have to dig real deep to beat them. At the same time, it’s a great test for us and I know we’ll be up for the challenge.”
Tip off for tonight’s game is 6 p.m. Saturday’s game against Brandon (0-12) begins at 5 p.m.
The UVic men will be looking to get back on track tonight, after losses to Winnipeg and Manitoba last weekend dropped Craig Beaucamp’s team’s record to 7-5.
And facing two of the Prairie Division’s weaker teams might just be medicine to get the Vikes rolling. Regina brings a 5-7 record into tonight’s matchup (8 p.m.), while Saturday’s opponent, Brandon, come in at 3-9. Saturday’s tip off is at 7 p.m.
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