The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team wrapped up its preseason schedule with a pair of hard-fought losses on the road in Lewiston, Idaho.
The Cascades faced the Lewis-Clark State College Warriors, one of the top NAIA Div. 1 programs in the United States, and took them down to the wire both nights, ultimately falling by scores of 83-79 on Friday and 63-59 on Saturday.
“The games were kind of carbon copies of one another, in that we got down a significant amount and came storming back in the second half,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer summarized. “We had great stretches of defence in both and great stretches of offence in both. But until we can put 40 minutes at both ends of the floor, we won’t be able to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
Up next for the Cascades are their first games of the Canada West regular season – they hit the road to Kelowna this weekend to take on the UBC Okanagan Heat on Friday (6 p.m. tip-off) and Saturday (5 p.m.). The games will be broadcast live on canadawest.tv.
On Friday, the Cascades fell behind by as many as 18 points in the second half, but rallied to cut the deficit to 76-73 with 2:30 left in regulation. The Warriors pushed the lead back up to seven, though, and fended off UFV down the stretch.
Nataliia Gavryliuk paced the Cascades’ offence with 21 points and added five rebounds and four assists, while Sarah Wierks notched a double-double with 20 points and 13 boards.
The Cascades excelled offensively, shooting 50.8 per cent from the field with a 36-30 edge in rebounds and a 42-28 advantage in points in the paint. The Warriors, ranked No. 15 in the NAIA Div. 1 preseason national poll, scored efficiently themselves, connecting on 48.3 per cent of their attempts from the field including 10-of-22 shooting from beyond the arc.
The rematch wasn’t as high-scoring an affair. Lewis-Clark opened a 41-26 lead at halftime, only to watch the Cascades battle back to within 53-51 with just under seven minutes remaining. They stayed within seven points the rest of the way, and drew to within 62-59 on a Gavryliuk trey with one minute left. A Jenika Bannerman steal on the next Lewis-Clark possession gave UFV a crack at tying the game, and Gavryliuk had two tries from beyond the arc, but the first missed and the second was blocked by the Warriors’ Caelyn Orlandi.
Wieks had another huge double-double with 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Gavryliuk scored 20 points and Shayna Litman posted 11 points and 11 boards.
“For long stretches, we looked really good,” Tuchscherer said, reflecting on the weekend. “We executed our stuff, we scored. Offensively we were good – we got the ball into the paint to Sarah and Shayna and Katie (Brink) the first night, and that opened up our perimeter a bit.
“On the defensive end, it’s kind of Jekyll and Hyde. In the first half, I’m wondering if we know how to play defence, and in the second half we’re in complete lockdown mode. It’s frustrating and encouraging at the same time.”
– with files from Lewis-Clark State College Athletics