Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – All five Cascades starters scored in double figures as the University of the Fraser Valley women's basketball team completed a weekend sweep of the Thompson Rivers WolfPack by a score of 82-77 on Saturday.
For the second straight evening at the Envision Athletic Centre, the WolfPack made the Cascades sweat it out down the stretch after the hosts appeared to have the game in hand in the fourth quarter. But UFV – coming off a 69-64 win on Friday – finished the game on a 6-2 run after TRU had trimmed a nine-point deficit to a single point in the final minute of regulation.
The Cascades improved to 10-6, tied for seventh place in Canada West with the Trinity Western Spartans, while the WolfPack (2-14) are tied for 16th.
"I think our team is comfortable playing in close games right now," UFV bench boss Al Tuchscherer said afterward. "I think they actually enjoy it. It's not really what I enjoy, but they're comfortable in that situation. They're not panicking, they can dig in a little bit on D, and we tend to score some big buckets when our backs are against the wall. That's a good trait to have."
The Cascades got off to a scuffling start on Saturday – they shot 26.7 per cent from the field and turned the ball over six times in the first quarter, en route to a 15-10 deficit. They got their legs under them in a big way in the second, shooting 66.7 per cent in the frame to rally for a 36-34 lead at the break.
"Our emphasis today was to come out and have a great start, and obviously that didn't really materialize," Tuchscherer said. "I thought the girls were high-energy but not high-focus, and that led to a lot of poor decisions. Thompson Rivers was ready to go. We got behind the eight-ball, came back, and in the third quarter, same thing."
Indeed, the WolfPack bounced back to lead by as many as seven points in the third quarter, but the Cascades reeled off a 12-0 run midway through the fourth, highlighted by a pair of Sydney Williams triples, to go up 73-64 with less than five minutes remaining.
TRU, though, pieced together an 11-3 run, drawing within 76-75 on Audrey Rankin's trey with just under a minute left. But Kayli Sartori scored the last of her game-high 21 points on a drive to the bucket, and Sara Simovic went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the dying seconds to seal the win.
Sartori added 10 rebounds, seven steals and four assists, and was capably supported by fellow starters Simovic (16 points, four assists), Williams (15 points, eight rebounds), Taylor Claggett (14 points, seven rebounds) and Shayna Litman (14 points, six rebounds, four assists).
The WolfPack got 19 points from Michelle Bos and 14 from Leilani Carney, but it was Emily Vilac (12 points off the bench on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc) who was the X-factor for Thompson Rivers.
"They've got some very good players – (Emma) Piggin, Bos, and they've got some kids who can really shoot the ball, and you saw Vilac tonight," Tuchscherer said. "They're a tough team to play against."
The Cascades are at home next weekend vs. the Victoria Vikes, while the WolfPack host the Calgary Dinos.