The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team hung with the Regina Cougars into the fourth quarter on Friday night at the Envision Athletic Centre, but the visitors pulled away down the stretch to earn an 80-65 victory and sweep their best-of-three first-round playoff series.
The Cascades trailed for much of the evening, but never quit battling. They drew to within 56-52 early in the fourth quarter after Nataliia Gavryliuk scored on a drop-step in the post and Shayna Litman nailed a baseline jumper on consecutive possessions.
But the Cougars, coming off a 74-56 victory in Friday’s Game 1, responded with a 9-0 run highlighted by a three-pointer and a layup by Katie Polischuk to reclaim control, and they kept the Cascades at bay the rest of the way.
Regina moves on to face the top-seeded UBC Thunderbirds in a quarter-final series that tips off Feb. 27 in Vancouver, while UFV’s 2014-15 campaign is done.
“I was really pleased with the fight the girls had tonight,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said afterward. “I said that to them after the game – you battle like that and you fight like that, it might not be the result you want, but you can leave somewhat satisfied.
“Regina’s super-tough – they play with a lot of pace, and they play with a lot of physicality. They’ve gone through a lot of battles this year, and they’re battle-tested. I’d say it took a game for us to figure that out and get to that level. It still wasn’t enough – they’ve got some pretty nice players. They’re knocking down shots, getting to the front of the rim, running some really nice stuff.”
Polischuk led the way for the Cougars with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Charlotte Kot (16 points), Jennilea Coppola (15 points, 11 boards), Alyssia Kajati (10 points) and Kehlsie Crone (nine points, nine assists) also had big nights.
Cascades third-year forward Katie Brink poured in a game-high 24 points, while Celeste Dyck and Shayna Litman notched 11 points apiece.
“I knew could possibly be our last game,” fifth-year point guard Dyck said, “so I wanted to just give it all and leave it all on the floor, and I thought I did that tonight.
“Our coach talked about effort a lot, and we didn’t bring that the first night. I thought we played really hard tonight – we were aggressive, got in the paint more.”
“In a lot of ways, they had some tough shoes to fill from last year’s (CIS bronze medal-winning) squad, coming in here and trying to carve out their own identity,” he said. “I thought they did a great job.
“I thought we got better as the season went on – our group evolved to a pretty good place, and I was happy with where we were. Obviously we just didn’t quite have enough firepower to deal with a pretty good Regina team here this weekend.”