Victorious UVic Vikes pay fitting tribute to Eli Pasquale

Losing was simply not an option on this day.

An emotionally charged Saturday for University of Victoria basketball, which began with the tribute ceremony to the late UVic great and two-time Olympian Eli Pasquale at McKinnon Gym, was capped by Canada West men’s and women’s victories across the street at CARSA Gym.

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The men’s Vikes team (2-2) knocked off the U Sports nationally fifth-ranked Alberta Golden Bears (5-1) by a 64-55 count.

“This was a very significant day for our program, and our players, to understand the legacy from which they come, and what they are playing for,” UVic coach Craig Beaucamp said.

“They weren’t even born in the 1980s, but they got to know a bit about our history and our heritage today. I told them to go out and play like warriors.”

Dominick Oliveri and Hayden Lejeune led the inspired Vikes with 17 points each.

The UVic Vikes women’s team defeated the Alberta Pandas 74-62 earlier in the evening.

“I wanted to get across to the players how lucky we are to be in this program and how fleeting this opportunity is,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair, a former Vikes national champion as a player. The UVic players responded with an emphatic victory over the Alberta Pandas (4-2) to avenge Friday’s loss.

“We were inspired tonight,” said Sinclair, who added she didn’t recognize her team the previous night. “We were insecure and disconnected [Friday]. We got back to playing with joy tonight. We showed we can bounce back. It still wasn’t pretty. But we dictated the pace.”

Six-foot-one forward Katie Langdon was key for UVic (3-1), which is ranked No. 9 nationally in U Sports.

“Katie stepped up big time,” said Sinclair.

Fifth-year Langdon took the message of fleetingness to heart with a 16-point performance.

“This is my last season and I want to use every opportunity I have,” said the veteran from Owen Sound, Ont. “We were maybe nervous for the home opener and never settled in Friday. We just focused on ourselves tonight. When we do that, we can beat any team.”

Ashlyn Day led UVic with 17 points while Vanessa Wild had 23 for Alberta.

The Vikes teams host the University of Brandon Bobcats in Canada West action next weekend at CARSA Gym.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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