Sports

UFV hoopsters alternate painful defeats with blowout wins

Nicole Wierks gives her best tongue-wagging Michael Jordan impersonation as she battles through contact on her way to the hoop vs. the Thompson Rivers WolfPack. - John Morrow
Nicole Wierks gives her best tongue-wagging Michael Jordan impersonation as she battles through contact on her way to the hoop vs. the Thompson Rivers WolfPack.
— image credit: John Morrow

Say this for the University of the Fraser Valley basketball teams – they sure didn't skimp on the drama on the weekend.

Hosting the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack in a series of games with major playoff implications, the Cascades women's and men's hoopsters blended dominant victories with heartbreaking losses.

The UFV women, ranked No. 3 in the nation, stole defeat from the jaws of victory on Friday evening. Leading by three points with 10 seconds left in regulation, and with possession of the ball, they somehow managed to lose 72-70 in overtime.

"It was just a shocking series of events," Cascades coach Al Tuchscherer said. "They stepped up and took it away from us."

With 10 seconds left, UFV turned the ball over on a sideline inbounds play, but leading by three, they elected to foul and send the WolfPack's Taiysa Worsfeld to the line for two free throws. Worsfeld made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second, and while Thompson Rivers grabbed the offensive rebound, they turned the ball back over to the Cascades.

But after a timeout, WolfPack guard Jen Ju stole Courtney Bartel's inbounds pass and hit a jumper to knot the score and send the game to OT.

In the extra session, UFV had the ball with 10 seconds left and the score tied 70-70, but Ju tied up Aiesha Luyken for a jump ball, and the possession arrow was pointing TRU's way. WolfPack forward Tracy Kocs drew a foul as time expired, and knocked down two free throws to lift her team to an improbable upset win.

"We pride ourselves on knowing what to do in those situations, and typically we do," Tuchscherer said. "But we mismanaged it just terribly.

"We were all just stunned. We met the next morning (for shoot-around), and none of us had slept. . . . You wonder how your team is going to react. How will they respond to having their hearts ripped out?"

A loss in Saturday's rematch would have seriously jeopardized the Cascades' chances of locking up the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Division, but they responded in impressive fashion, crushing TRU 80-57. UFV essentially ended any suspense in the first half, building a 22-point lead at the break while shooting a scorching 58 per cent.

Sarah Wierks had a monster game with 20 points and 16 rebounds, while Luyken (18 points, six assists) and Kayli Sartori (14 points, eight rebounds) also came up big.

"There was no fear in their eyes," Tuchscherer said. "They were focused, really, really focused."

HOT-SHOOTING CASCADES COOL OFF IN A HURRY

In the span of two days, the UFV men's team went from their best offensive performance of the season to one of their worst.

On Friday, the Cascades carved up the WolfPack in a 92-66 victory, hitting 16-of-30 shots from beyond the arc. Sam Freeman (24 points, 5-for-9 from three) and Kyle Grewal (20 points, 4-of-5 from three) led the barrage, while Kevon Parchment chipped in with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

But on Saturday, UFV couldn't hit anything, be it a three-pointer or a layup. They shot a paltry 33.3 per cent from the field, including 8-for-32 from the three-point line, en route to a 63-60 loss.

Their poor shooting aside, the Cascades did some good things Saturday. They set a team record for fewest points allowed in a quarter, out-scoring TRU 18-2 in the second, and they led by 14 at halftime and by as many as 10 in the fourth.

But the WolfPack rallied – after Freeman hit a trey to give UFV a 60-56 lead with 1:30 left, TRU finished the game on a 7-0 run, capped by Troy Grant's fallaway three-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining.

"It was a tale of two games," Cascades coach Adam Friesen noted. "We were hitting more shots on Friday, and we played great defence both days, but our turnovers and a lack of finishing inside was the difference on Saturday."

HOOPSTERS FACE SPARTANS THIS WEEK

The weekend splits with TRU set up a fascinating final weekend of the regular season for the UFV hoopsters.

The Cascades meet Trinity Western in a home-and-home set – Friday at UFV's Envision Athletic Centre (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday at the Langley Events Centre (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.).

The UFV women (16-4) are tied with UBC for first place in the Pacific Division, and can lock up the top seed with a pair of wins over TWU (7-13) since they own the tiebreaker with the Thunderbirds. The Spartans have been eliminated from playoff contention, but they're on a bit of a roll, having won four of their last six.

On the men's side, UFV and TWU are tied for third in the Pacific at 11-9. Both teams are playoff bound and will be on the road in the first round of the Canada West post-season, but they're jockeying for seeding.

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