UFV’s Shayna Litman battles in the paint during the Cascades home opener against MRU on Friday. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

UFV’s Shayna Litman battles in the paint during the Cascades home opener against MRU on Friday. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

UFV Cascades take three of four from MRU

Basketball teams have successful home opening weekends

After a fruitless trip to UBC to open the Canada West regular season, the UFV Cascades men’s and women’s bounced back by winning three of four against the Mount Royal University Cougars on Friday and Saturday.

The women exploded in the third quarter on Friday, riding that offensive wave to a 68-47 win.

UFV outscored the Cougars 27-11 in the third frame to earn the win. Forward Taylor Claggett was a force on Friday, picking up 16 points and 16 rebounds, while Shayna Litman added 16 points and 12 boards.

“I thought we were getting good shots in the first half, and we just encouraged the girls to continue to look for those good shots,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said about his team’s third-quarter explosion. “They’ve got to start falling for us eventually. We haven’t been playing with a ton of confidence, and it was good to kind of break out in the third quarter. We made some easy ones in transition, and then we knocked down some (outside) shots and had a couple fortunate buckets. It was good to see. I think we really needed that quarter.”

Saturday’s game saw the Cascades take over in the fourth quarter to earn the 76-64 win.

They trailed 48-47 heading into the third, but guard Sara Simovic caught fire by scoring 11 points to lead UFV to the win.

Simovic ended with 17 points, with Litman scoring 20 and Claggett adding 18.

“I had a really bad first half, and I had to pull it out somehow because we needed it,” Simovic said afterward. “It was a close game, kind of scary, so you just find it within. I think it was just not second-guessing myself at all – just grab it, shoot it. I knew I was shooting before I even got it, and that’s probably why it went in.”

The women now improve to a record of two wins and two losses early into the Canada West regular season.

The men saw six different players reach double figures to earn a 86-80 win over the Cougars on Friday.

The victory was the first on the season for the club, and saw players Vick Toor, Sukhman Sandhu, Mark Johnson, Daniel Adediran, Andrew Morris and Kenan Hadzovic all score 10 or more points.

Toor, who was making his first-ever start as a Cascade, led the team with 17 points and eight assists. Adediran added 14 points, while Sandhu scored 10 and grabbed 15 rebounds.

“Getting the first win means a lot – to have the guys feel it and know we can do this,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said on Friday. “We know we have a long way to go, but to get that off our backs is big. We’re not anywhere near, hopefully, playing our best basketball. We didn’t play overly well, but just good enough to get a win.”

The offence didn’t continue for the Cascades on Saturday, as they shot just 34 per cent from the field in a 88-59 loss.

Sandhu was the lone Cascade to reach double figures on Saturday, scoring 20 points to go along with six rebounds.

UFV particularly struggled in the second half, shooting just 25.9 per cent from the field.

“We struggle mightily when adversity hits us,” Friesen said. “When it does, we haven’t shown the ability to turn the momentum once we lose it. That’s been unfortunate, and it’s something we’re forced to learn.”

The club’s record now stands at one win and three losses so far this season.

The teams next head to Saskatchewan for games against the Regina Cougars on Friday and Saturday. They return home for games against the Winnipeg Wesman on Nov. 17 and 18.