A lacklustre start to the third quarter cost the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team dearly in the Canada West championship game.
Facing the Saskatchewan Huskies on Saturday afternoon in Edmonton, the Cascades took a 34-30 lead into halftime.
But the Huskies came charging out of the locker room and began the third quarter on a 16-3 run, thus transforming the four-point deficit into a nine-point lead. They kept the Cascades at bay from there, denying the UFV women their first-ever conference title by a score of 67-56.
Regardless, the Cascades will join the Huskies at the CIS national championship tournament, March 14-16 in Windsor, Ont.
“It was almost like we ran out of gas,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer analyzed, noting that his team’s 66-56 semifinal win over the Alberta Pandas on Friday was “extremely physical” and took a lot out of his squad.
“We were in pretty good shape coming out of the half – we were doing what we wanted to do. . . . But we weren’t hitting shots (in the third quarter), and Saskatchewan can really shoot the ball.”
The Huskies got exceptional performances from superstar centre Dalyce Emmerson and fourth-year guard Kabree Howard. The 6’3″ Emmerson, the reigning Canada West MVP and defensive player of the year, fashioned an eye-popping stat line: 19 points, 22 rebounds and eight blocks. Howard was Saskatchewan’s chief threat on the perimeter, posting 20 points and six assists.
The Cascades got a game-high 21-point outing from Nataliia Gavryliuk – including 5-for-9 shooting from three-point range – and a double-double from Sarah Wierks.
But UFV shot just 32.8 per cent from the field, and fifth-year point guard Aieisha Luyken, who carried the team offensively with 29 points in Friday’s semifinal win over the Alberta Pandas, was largely shut down by the Huskies. She mustered just two points on 1-for-9 shooting from the field, though she did dish out seven assists.
“Dalyce Emmerson is probably the premier post in the country right now,” Tuchscherer said, lauding the Saskatchewan star. “She’s got size and length over everybody, and she’s extremely skilled.
“Honestly, I think Sarah (Wierks) plays her as tough as anybody in the country. But she’s a handful.”
Tuchscherer, though, felt Emmerson was camping out in the paint on offence and should have been subject to a few more three-in-the-key calls.
“You reach that status, and you get the benefit of the doubt a lot of times, too,” he said.
The Cascades fly back home on Sunday, and will in all likelihood be departing for Windsor on Tuesday.
UFV SEEDED FIFTH AT NATIONALS
The Cascades are seeded No. 5 in the eight-team national tourney draw, and will face the No. 4-seeded Quebec champion McGill Marlets at 5 p.m. Pacific time on Friday.
Sportsnet 360 has live coverage of Saturday’s semifinals at 12 and 2 p.m. Pacific time, along with the final on Sunday at 5 p.m. The entirety of the tourney will be webcast live at www.CIS-SIC.tv.