Winning didn’t exactly come easy for the UFV Cascades women’s basketball team during the preseason.
The club picked up just three wins in 13 exhibition games, but proved they learned something in those losses on Saturday.
The women hosted the defending national champion University of Saskatchewan Huskies, and after falling on Friday, the team controlled play on Saturday to win 59-48.
Head coach Al Tuchscherer said it was a big step for his team.
“I thought it was an important win for us,” he said. “It was important for us to begin to learn how to win games and weather the storms like we did in the fourth quarter today. Our veterans played like veterans for us, and Kayli [Sartori], Sara [Simovic] and Shayna [Litman] all made big hoops down the stretch.”
Sartori collected 23 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals in a stellar all-around performance. Litman added 11 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore Taylor Claggett picked up 10 rebounds and nine points.
“We’ve been working hard since September and haven’t had a lot of wins to show for it,” he said. “This win rewards our players for all the hard work they’ve put in.”
The women held the Huskies to just 22 per cent shooting on the evening. The win comes off a 53-44 loss to the Huskies on Friday.
Sartori, Simovic and Claggett all collected 10 points, with Litman grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds.
The weekend was the reverse for the men, as they opened the Canada West season with an impressive 59-50 win over the Huskies on Friday, but lost 78-62 on Saturday.
The men trailed 40-20 at one point in the second quarter, bur clawed back to within single digits in the second half. The Huskies pulled away near the end of the game to pick up the win.
Manny Dulay led the team with 20 points and six assists, while Anthony Gilchrist had a strong game off the bench with 13 points and four rebounds.
Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said he liked some of what he saw on Saturday.
“I think offensively, our best stretch today was better than our best stretch yesterday,” he said. “I think we’re still finding ourselves offensively, how we have to play. Our big weakness is physicality and being undersized, and battling on the rebounds. Yesterday we did a good job of that, and today our foot was off the gas a bit, and they took advantage of it a lot.”
Friday’s win saw the Cascades limit the Huskies to 27 per cent shooting, and out-rebound Saskatchewan 48-39.
Guard Vijay Dhillon led UFV with 17 points, while Dulay had 10 points and five assists. Navot Bains had a monster game with 16 rebounds, eight points and six assists.
The men and women next take on arch-rival the Trinity Western University Spartans for a home-and-home series on Friday in Abbotsford and Saturday in Langley.