University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball coach Al Tuchscherer wasn’t thrilled with his team’s offensive execution on Thursday, but their league-leading defence was outstanding as usual.
The Cascades smothered the Calgary Dinos in the first half of the opening game of their best-of-three first-round playoff series – they limited the Dinos to 18.5 per cent shooting over the first two quarters, and cruised to a 67-48 victory at the Envision Athletic Centre.
Game 2 goes Friday at 7 p.m., also at the EAC.
“When we’re locked in defensively, I think we can be pretty tough,” Tuchscherer acknowledged. “Our goal is, every shot the other team takes, we want it to be a difficult shot, and that’s what was happening for really three quarters of the game.”
The final score, lopsided though it was, somewhat flattered the Dinos, who trailed 34-16 at the half and by as many as 29 points in the third quarter before out-scoring UFV 23-16 in the fourth with the outcome long since decided.
That said, Tuchscherer’s review of his team’s offensive play was less than charitable.
“I thought it was pretty sloppy, to be honest,” he said, alluding to the Cascades’ 36.1 per cent shooting from the field. “I thought we were just turning the ball over and over-dribbling the ball tonight, so we didn’t really have a lot of flow offensively. We’re going to have to address that tomorrow . . . We’re going to have to be a lot better.”
UFV, the No. 5-ranked team in the nation, is fortunate to have a player like Nataliia Gavryliuk to turn to when they get out of sorts offensively. The first-year Cascade from Kiev, Ukraine has ridiculous flair to her game, and is able to salvage otherwise ragged possessions by generating good looks late in the shot clock.
Gavryliuk unleashed her full arsenal on the Dinos, knocking down three-pointers, tossing behind-the-back passes and finishing and-one layups en route to a game-high 17 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
“She really adds another dimension for our team,” Tuchscherer noted. “She’s a different weapon for us, for sure. She’s a little unorthodox, and that’s why we’re excited to have her in our program. She’s pretty crafty, she’s tough to stop, and she can score in a few different ways. I thought she really came ready to play.”
Aieisha Luyken and Nicole Wierks chipped in with 10 points apiece for UFV, while the Dinos got 13 points from Kristie Sheils and 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds from Tamara Jarrett.
The Cascades had been without Luyken (ankle) and Kayli Sartori (concussion) due to injury in recent weeks, but both were back in the lineup Thursday.
But they lost the services of sophomore forward Katie Brink in the first half – she went to hospital for X-rays after suffering an ankle injury. No update on her condition was available post-game.
“If we lose Katie, it’s going to be a pretty significant blow to us, for sure,” Tuchscherer observed. “We’re hoping it’s just a sprain.”
• The Cascades men’s basketball team is in Edmonton for the Canada West Final Four, and they take on the Victoria Vikes in the semifinals at 3 p.m. Pacific time. The winner earns a guaranteed berth to the CIS national championships. The game can be viewed online at canadawest.tv.