After a less-than-satisfactory performance on the road to open the Canada West basketball season, home cooking seemed to work wonders for the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades.
Both UFV hoops squads bounced back from disappointing performances at Thompson Rivers University the previous week, posting blowout wins over the Manitoba Bisons and Winnipeg Wesmen on home-opening weekend at the Envision Athletic Centre.
The Cascades women obliterated the Bisons 75-33 on Friday, and followed that up with a decisive 75-51 win over Winnipeg on Saturday.
The men were similarly dominant, blitzing Manitoba 101-76 and Winnipeg 89-69.
“I think it goes a long way to building our confidence back up to where it needs to be again,” UFV women’s coach Al Tuchscherer summarized.
The Cascades women shot the ball extremely poorly in two losses at TRU, and while Tuchscherer wasn’t completely satisfied with their offensive execution on the weekend, shooting 48.3 per cent against Manitoba and 39.4 per cent against Winnipeg represented a step in the right direction.
After cruising past the Bisons on Friday, the Cascades battled a solid Winnipeg squad to a 25-25 deadlock at the half on Saturday. UFV took over in the third quarter, though, out-scoring the guests 30-11 in the frame en route to victory.
“It was just a matter of time before our offence got going,” Tuchscherer noted. “At the half, I was X-ing and O-ing in up, and (assistant coach Anthony) Luyken just said, ‘You know what, forget about the X’s and O’s. We need some energy here.’ They just needed to go out and play. And they did. Our energy level was way higher in the second half.”
The Cascades showcased a balanced attack against Manitoba, led by Sarah Wierks and Tessa Klassen with 11 points apiece.
Nicole Wierks, with 17 points, paced the offence against Winnipeg, while rookie forward Kayli Sartori notched a double-double with 13 points and eight rebounds.
The UFV men, ranked No. 8 in the nation, had coughed up a 21-point third-quarter lead the previous Saturday at Thompson Rivers. They made sure that didn’t happen at home, bearing down in the second half both nights.
Joel Friesen led the charge against Manitoba with a ridiculously efficient offensive performance – he scored 24 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, including 5-of-6 from three-point range.
Against Winnipeg, post players Jasper Moedt and Mike James (pictured right) stepped into the leading roles. Moedt (8-for-10) and James (7-for-10) combined for 35 points on 75 per cent shooting from the field. Their offensive play was particularly pivotal in the third quarter, when the Wesmen made a 15-2 run to trim a 19-point UFV lead to six. The Cascades responded by pounding the ball inside.
“That was a scary 15-2 run they went on, but we were able to answer,” head coach Barnaby Craddock noted. “We got the ball back in to Jasper and Mike, and they were able to finish. It’s a settling influence to get a few layups.”
Friesen’s scoring numbers were more modest than the night before, but he still stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
• The UFV basketball teams are at home again this weekend, and they host the UBC-Okanagan Heat on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.).