The University of the Fraser Valley basketball teams were accompanied by a lot of fanfare entering the 2011-12 regular season, but they hit a major speed bump on opening weekend against Thompson Rivers University.
The Cascades men, ranked No. 7 in the CIS national poll to start the season, could only manage a split on the road in Kamloops – they won Friday’s opener 77-69, but fell 91-83 in Saturday’s rematch.
The UFV women came in ranked No. 9 nationally, but they were on the wrong end of a sweep, losing 68-64 on Friday and 65-59 in overtime on Saturday.
“It felt like everything was in place, but we just faltered from our game plan,” Cascades men’s coach Barnaby Craddock said, referring to his team’s Saturday loss, while aptly summing up the weekend for both UFV teams.
The men’s loss on Saturday was particularly galling – the Cascades led by 17 points at halftime and by as many as 21 in the third quarter, only to watch the WolfPack roar back to win. TRU shot a scorching 68.8 per cent from the field in the second half, led by Justin King, who finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds.
“They were just really playing well, and we obviously stopped doing what gave us success for the first six quarters of the weekend, which was playing defence with intensity and playing as a unit at the offensive end,” Craddock said. “It’s a big lesson for us.”
Sam Freeman, with 18 points Friday and 22 Saturday, was UFV’s leading scorer both nights.
SHOOTING WOES DOOM CASCADES WOMEN
The Cascades women suffered from apocalyptically poor shooting – they hit just 30.4 per cent of their attempts from the field on Friday, and cratered to 21.9 per cent Saturday.
“We could probably shoot better blindfolded, to be honest with you,” UFV coach Al Tuchscherer grimly noted. “Our finish wasn’t there, and it was baffling. Both nights, we got way more shots than they did, which is usually an indicator things are going well.
“But that being said, our execution wasn’t as good as it could be. We’ve got a long way to go as a team.”
The Cascades struggled to contain WolfPack centre Diane Schuetze – she went for 24 points and 10 rebounds in Friday’s win, and 20 points and 19 boards on Saturday.
Nicole Wierks, with 19 points and 10 rebounds, was UFV’s best player Friday, and her sister Sarah posted a team-high 12 points and 15 boards Saturday.
HOME OPENERS SET FOR TIP-OFF
The UFV basketball teams host their home openers at the Envision Athletic Centre this weekend. The Manitoba Bisons are in town Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.), and the Winnipeg Wesmen are the guests Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.).