If the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team were inclined to offer excuses, they had an awfully compelling one to trot out after suffering their first loss of the season.
Coming off a dominant 74-35 road win over the Brandon Bobcats on Friday, the No. 2-ranked Cascades embarked on a late-night bus trip to Regina, where they were slated to face the No. 3-ranked Cougars the next day in a marquee match-up.
But the UFV bus got caught in a freezing rainstorm which shut down the Trans-Canada Highway, and they were stuck overnight in Virden, a town of just over 3,000 in southwestern Manitoba.
The highway didn’t open again until 1 p.m. Saturday, and by the time the Cascades arrived at the gym in Regina, they had time for a 17-minute warm-up prior to tip-off.
They weren’t at their best by any means, but UFV turned in a gritty effort in a narrow 59-55 loss to the Cougars. Neither team shot better than 30 per cent from the floor.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cascades coach Al Tuchscherer said with a wry chuckle, reflecting on the travel debacle. “In a 24-hour period, we had four vehicles – and two semis – almost take our bus out. It was unbelievable.”
That said, Tuchscherer wasn’t going to play the what-if game – as in, what if his team hadn’t had their game-day routine disrupted and had been able to take a clean shot at the Cougars.
“I think this was good for our team,” he asserted. “It was a great opportunity for us to experience some adversity and adapt to it. I think there was every reason in the book for us to go, ‘OK, let’s get this over with.’ If we’d lost by 20 or 30, we would have had the perfect built-in excuse.
“But not once did anybody talk about any of that. I thought we competed hard, we just came up a little bit short.”
Kayli Sartori exploded for 27 points against Brandon of 10-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. Aieisha Luyken scored a game-high 16 points vs. Regina before leaving in the fourth quarter with a dislocated finger.
The UFV women’s hoopsters head into the Christmas break at 9-1, tops in the Pacific Division.
“I’m just really proud of the girls and their development,” Tuchscherer said, reflecting on a marvelous first half. “From a mental toughness standpoint, they’ve grown so much over the past couple years.”
CASCADES MEN ROLL OVER ROAD FOES
The Cascades men had an easier time of it on the road trip, cruising past the two worst teams in the Prairie Division.
UFV beat Brandon 81-61 on Friday behind big games from Kyle Grewal (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Kevon Parchment (15 points, 14 rebounds).
Those two players notched double-doubles again in Saturday’s 82-68 win over Regina – Parchment had 23 points and 12 boards, while Grewal had 18 and 11.
“The guys really battled hard tonight to finish off this trip with two key victories,” said head coach Adam Friesen, whose team heads into the break tied with UVic for second in the Pacific Division at 7-3.