The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team (6-4) leaned on some strong rebounding and a little resiliency en route to a 64-52 win over the Mount Royal University Cougars (1-9) at the Envision Athletic Centre on Saturday night.
The Cougars hung with the Cascades for much of the evening, and were level at 37-37 late in the third quarter. But UFV, coming off a 73-58 win vs. Mount Royal on Friday, responded with a 16-4 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to seize control.
The grit the Cascades brought to the gym on Saturday yielded a 42-28 edge over the taller Cougars in the rebounding department.
“I was really happy with our effort tonight,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said afterward. “I don’t think it was just rebounding, either – it was a grittier performance, and I that showed up in a lot of the stats. . . . We were on the ground a lot tonight, getting after the 50-50 stuff. If we’re doing those things, we become that tough, gritty team we want to be.”
Fans in attendance saw a much more measured performance from both teams than what had been displayed the night before, when UFV erupted to take a 25-point lead at halftime.
The Cascades jumped out to a 17-11 advantage after the first quarter, thanks in large part to 10 points from Kayli Sartori. Unlike the night before, however, the Cougars kept pace as the teams entered the halftime break with UFV maintaining their six-point advantage.
Seven straight points from the Cougars’ Michelle Tiffany drew her team even at 37-37 in the third quarter, but UFV responded with an 8-2 run of their own to regain the advantage. A buzzer-beating layup from Tiffany would draw Mount Royal to within three as the teams entered the final frame with UFV holding onto a 45-42 lead.
UFV would take control in the fourth quarter, opening the stanza with a 12-2 run to open a 14-point lead. The deficit would prove too much for Mount Royal to overcome.
“Mount Royal is a well-coached team,” Tuchscherer asserted. “They run a lot of zone stuff (defensively), a lot of full-court pressure stuff, that we quite frankly just don’t see a lot. It’s a real different look to play this team, and then they play hard. A lot of credit goes to them, and for us to answer that was a bit of a step for us tonight.”
Tiffany had a phenomenal night off the bench for the Cougars. She came into Saturday’s tilt averaging 2.9 points per game, having totaled just 20 points during MRU’s conference schedule. But she more than doubled that, racking up a game-high 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
Angela Driscoll also had a strong game for Mount Royal, pouring in 14 points and adding four assists.
Canada West scoring leader Sartori paced the Cascades with 21 points while posting four assists and pulling down 10 boards. Rookie standout Taylor Claggett also had a double-double for UFV, notching 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Shayna Cameron chipped in with 11 point and seven boards.
Sartori was pleased with the way her team battled against the Cougars.
“When we get a challenge against a team with a girl who’s 6’4” (MRU’s Becky Nash), there’s no other way but embracing the tough,” she said. “We boarded as hard as we could, we tried to get our hands on as many balls as we could, we threw our bodies on the ground. We’re all bruised, banged up and sore – we’re feeling it, most definitely.”
The UFV basketball teams welcome the UNBC Timberwolves to the Envision Athletic Centre next weekend. The action gets underway on Friday at 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men), while Saturday’s games tip off at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
– by Russell Arbuthnot, UFV Cascades communications staff