Slow starts couldn’t steal the momentum of the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team, as they stretched their program-record win streak to 10 with home-court victories over the Regina Cougars and Brandon Bobcats.
Both nights, it took the Cascades time to hit their stride – they trailed the lowly Cougars 38-37 at halftime on Friday, and were down 22-16 after the first quarter vs. Brandon on Saturday.
But in both cases, they heated up as the game wore on – they out-scored Regina 28-18 in the fourth quarter en route to an 84-71 win, and a 23-10 surge in the third quarter the next night yielded an 83-71 victory over Brandon.
“It shows that we’re able to fight and pull out games in the end, kind of raise our level when it’s absolutely needed,” UFV coach Adam Friesen noted. “But at the same point, right now we’re waiting for the moment when we need to bring defensive intensity. And that’s a trend we’ve got to stop, starting next weekend.”
The Cascades got a huge scoring night from Kevon Parchment on Friday – he lit up the Cougars for 36 points on 13-of-22 shooting from the field.
On Saturday, UFV crushed the Bobcats in the rebounding department by a 47-24 count, with 6’7″ Jasper Moedt setting the tone with 23 points and 19 boards. Manny Dulay swished six triples to account for all 18 of his points.
The Cascades improved to 13-5, maintaining a comfortable two-game lead on Thompson Rivers for second place in the Pacific Division of Canada West.
“You’ve got to be proud of our guys for winning consistently and setting a school record,” Friesen said, reflecting on his team’s 10 straight wins.
“The challenge we have with this win streak is keeping motivated and playing at the highest level we know we can play at. Our challenge is more with us right now, than it is with our opponents.”
UFV WOMEN CHALLENGE COUGARS, BEAT BOBCATS
On the women’s side, UFV’s clash with Regina on Friday was a marquee match-up – the Cougars came in ranked No. 4 in the nation, while the Cascades were No. 7.
The game lived up to its lofty billing, with Regina eking out a dramatic 64-62 win.
UFV trailed by 10 points in the second quarter, but battled back to take the lead in the third, and they led 60-58 on Aieisha Luyken’s layup with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
The Cougars, though, responded with a Jennilea Coppola layup and a Katie Polischuk three-pointer to surge ahead 63-60. Kayli Sartori of the Cascades replied with a driving layup to make it 63-62, but Regina was still in the driver’s seat, in possession of the ball with 34 seconds left.
Sartori, though, forced a turnover, giving the ball back to UFV with 23.1 seconds remaining.
The Cougars had two fouls to give and used them effectively to get the clock down to 8.4 seconds, and on the ensuing inbounds play, Luyken’s pass went off Nataliia Gavryliuk’s arm and rolled into the backcourt for a violation, giving the ball back to the Cougars.
Regina star Nicole Clarke hit one of two free throws with 3.2 seconds left, and Sartori wasn’t able to get a desperation shot from halfcourt off before the buzzer sounded.
Afterward, Cascades coach Al Tuchscherer took responsibility for the late turnover which prevented his team from taking a potential game-winning shot.
“We were just a little bit disorganized down the stretch there,” he said. “We had the play we wanted to run, but the first option wasn’t there, and we need to go to option B. . . . That’s me. We haven’t practiced that enough.”
That said, Tuchscherer was pleased with his team’s performance. They’ve struggled with consistency this season, but were able to push the last year’s CIS silver medalists to the limit.
“I’m proud of the effort,” he said. “The girls were excited to play, and sometimes when you lose a game, it’s still a bit of a win. It’s something we can build on.”
Sartori scored 19 points on a variety of gritty drives to the hoop, while Gavryliuk (14 points) and Luyken (10 points, eight assists) also excelled vs. Regina.
The UFV women bounced back the next night with a 68-52 win over Brandon, behind big games from Sarah Wierks (12 points, 14 rebounds), Luyken (14 points) and Courtney Bartel (12 points, 10 rebounds).
The weekend results left them in a three-way tie for first in the Pacific Division with UBC and UVic. All three teams are 13-5 with four games remaining, but the Cascades are in the driver’s seat in the race for the top seed, as they hold the tiebreakers vs. both teams.
TAKING ON THE TIMBERWOLVES
The UFV hoopsters travel to Prince George this weekend to face the UNBC Timberwolves (Friday and Saturday, women 6 p.m. and men 8 p.m. both nights).