Sydney Williams and the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team staged a breakthrough performance on the final day of the Cougar Classic preseason tournament in Regina.
Williams, a guard out of Langley’s Brookswood Secondary, hadn’t shot the ball well in the Cascades’ first two games of the tournament – a 92-58 loss to the Saskatchewan Huskies on Thursday, and an 86-48 defeat to the host Regina Cougars on Friday. She shot a combined 2-of-21 from the field in those two contests.
But Williams found her stroke on Saturday morning against the Guelph Gryphons, drilling six three-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points as the Cascades prevailed 69-53.
“Syd was pretty down on herself after the first two games – that’s just how she is,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said of Williams, who won the 2014 Canada West rookie of the year award while playing for the Thompson Rivers WolfPack and transferred to UFV over the summer.
“We had a good talk and tried to simplify things for her today, give her one of two things to think about. She was a different player today, and it was good to see.
“It wasn’t just that she was knocking down shots, either – she was very active at the defensive end of the floor. She’s the kind of player where her motor never stops . . . and that translated to the offensive end of the floor.”
Kaitlyn McDonald came off the UFV bench to post a flawless shooting performance (4-for-4 from the field, including 3-for-3 from the three-point line) on her way to 11 points. Rookie post player Taylor Claggett notched eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds, and Shayna Cameron chipped in with nine points and nine boards.
Katherine MacTavish and Abbey Clark paced the Gryphons with 10 points apiece.
The game was tied 30-30 at halftime, but the Cascades locked it down on defence after the break, limiting Guelph to 15.6 per cent shooting the rest of the way.
“The girls came out with a lot of determination today,” Tuchscherer said. “They really weren’t happy with the first two days of the tournament, and they played a real solid 40 minutes today. They really wanted to play harder – they addressed some things last night, and they brought it this morning. It was fantastic to see that.
“It was a pretty important result for us,” he added. “I thought we showed a lot of resilience today, and that’ll serve us well.”
Up next for the Cascades is an exhibition game at home vs. the Vancouver Island University Mariners next Friday, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m.