Cougars eliminate host Vikes to move on to consolation final

Cougars eliminate host Vikes to move on to consolation final

U SPORTS Communications

VICTORIA – The No. 5 Regina Cougars knocked off the host Victoria Vikes in their 2017 ArcelorMittal Dofasco U SPORTS Women's Final 8 consolation semifinal on Friday, putting up 46 points in the second half on their way to a 78-64 victory.

The win pits the Cougars against the Canada West champions Saskatchewan in the consolation final, which will take place on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m., while the Vikes exit their first national tournament since 2004 without a victory.  

U SPORTS Rookie of the Year Kyanna Giles led the Cougars in a trio of statistical categories on Friday night, registering 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists. That clutch performance earned her Regina's Player of the Game award.

Second-year guard Avery Pearce tied with Giles in scoring on the final boxscore, who finished with 14 points and three rebounds. Third-year forward Christina McCusker and fifth-year guard Katie Polischuk both had 13 points, while Sara Hubenig followed Giles with six rebounds to go along with five assists. 

"We said all along that if we could get them into the half-court that we would be okay — when we got into trouble is when we gave them an offensive rebound or in transition," said Regina head coach Dave Taylor. "As soon as we made them play half-court offence, we were pretty comfortable that we could stop them."

In what turned out to be the final game of her U SPORTS career, fifth-year forward Jenna Bugiardini led the Vikes in scoring with 25 points and added six rebounds through 32 minutes. Bugiardini was named Victoria's Player of the Game, a fitting send-off for an athlete who has given her all to the Vikes program.

"That will be a hole to fill for sure," said Victoria head coach Dani Sinclair of Bugiardini graduating. "She is efficient - sometimes you don't notice it when you are watching her play but then you look at the stat sheet and she is always producing.  It was so special for her and the other two to have an opportunity to play in a national tournament."

Victoria got off to another slow start on Friday night, shooting 33.3 per cent from the field, and Regina took advantage, knocking down 52.9 per cent of their shots and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Fifth year Katie Polischuk led the Cougars with five points in the first quarter to help her team take a 21-17 lead into the second frame.

But the Vikes adjusted between quarters, tightening up their defence to hold Regina to a 25 per cent success rate from the floor. The result was a much closer game heading into the second half, with the score at 32-31 Regina at the break.

Still, the Cougars were able to limit Victoria's shooting success in all four quarters, as the Vikes never hit more than 40 per cent of their shots. Regina finished with a 52-37 edge on the boards, including a 33-20 edge in their own zone.

"We had a big rebounding advantage but I still thought we gave up too many offensive rebounds," said Taylor. "When we rebound we're just way better, it makes such a big difference." 

For Sinclair, it was a tough end to a long-anticipated tournament.

"In terms of the game, it was disappointing obviously," she said. "We wanted to extend our season, especially with how great the crowd has been here and all the support we've received so it's disappointing for it to finish."

The battle of Saskatchewan will be on full display beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night, when Regina takes to the court against their provincial rival. That game can be watched live on USPORTS.LIVE..