Cascades cruise past T-Wolves in Tuchscherer’s 500th game

Coming off an upset loss to the UNBC Timberwolves on Friday, Kayli Sartori and the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team weren’t about to let it happen again – especially not on the occasion of Al Tuchscherer’s 500th game as head coach of the Cascades.

Canada West scoring leader Sartori was a force of nature on Saturday evening, scoring a game-high 24 points and spearheading a stellar defensive effort in UFV’s 83-56 victory at the Envision Athletic Centre.

UFV president Dr. Mark Evered (left) and past president Dr. Skip Bassford (right) joined Al Tuchscherer and his wife Denise in a post-game ceremony to celebrate Tuchscherer's 500th game as head coach of the Cascades.

UFV president Dr. Mark Evered (left) and past president Dr. Skip Bassford (right) joined Al Tuchscherer and his wife Denise in a post-game ceremony to celebrate Tuchscherer’s 500th game as head coach of the Cascades.

One night after the Cascades struggled mightily on the offensive end – they shot just 22.4 per cent from the field in Friday’s 63-46 loss to UNBC – they looked like a juggernaut. UFV shot 41.5 per cent from the floor, but more importantly, they drew free throws at will. They took an eye-popping 39 free throws, with Sartori (12-for-13) and Taylor Claggett (9-for-12) leading the charge as the Cascades shot 82.1 per cent from the charity stripe.

Most telling, though, were the Cascades’ numbers in terms of defence and rebounding. They held the T-Wolves to 29.2 per cent shooting from the field, and out-boarded the visitors 46-37. The latter stat was in marked contrast to the night before, when UNBC owned the battle of the boards by a 57-33 margin.

“I told him (Tuchscherer) when we were walking out of the locker room (before the game) that there was no way we were losing,” Sartori revealed afterward. “We were going to get it done, and we were going to get it done pretty. And that’s what we did. It was an awesome night, it really was.

“All the girls were firing on all cylinders. We were hyped for the game – we wanted to play hard for him, we wanted to play hard for each other.”

The Cascades opened a 22-15 lead at the end of the first quarter behind seven points from Sartori and two three-pointers from Kaitlyn McDonald, including a buzzer-beater. They pushed the margin as high as 15 points in the second quarter before settling for a 40-28 halftime lead.

They kept the pedal to the metal after the break – five quick points from Claggett and another trey by McDonald constituted an 8-0 run late in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 25 points (61-36) and essentially draining any suspense from the proceedings.

Katie Brink made a major impact off the bench for the Cascades, posting 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting with seven rebounds. Claggett finished with 11 points, and McDonald, Shayna Cameron and Sydney Williams had nine points apiece.

Vasiliki Louka and Maria Mongomo scored 17 and 16 points, respectively, but they were the only T-Wolves to reach double figures.

“I don’t think we were as focused as we should have been in Friday night’s game,” UFV guard Hailey Kendall said. “Tonight, we kind of clicked. Everyone was finding each other, and it was a lot better.”

UFV's Kaitlyn McDonald scored nine points off the bench on Saturday.

UFV’s Kaitlyn McDonald scored nine points off the bench on Saturday.

“It was a nice bounce-back, for sure,” Tuchscherer echoed. “And then to do it on a night like tonight, that was nice. It’s always nice to get a win, and it was a little bit of a milestone for our program, and that’s pretty cool.”

Tuchscherer has helmed the Cascades since 2002, and helped the program make the transition from Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) into Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) in 2006. He’s built the Cascades into a strong program in the Canada West conference, going to four straight Canada West Final Fours between 2011 and 2014, and winning the CIS national bronze medal in 2014. With Saturday’s win, his all-time record at UFV is 310-190 (exhibition, regular season and playoffs).

Tuchscherer was presented with the game ball and a framed photo in a post-game ceremony with UFV president Dr. Mark Evered and past president Dr. Skip Bassford, who served in the role from 1998 to 2009 and whose tenure overlapped with Tuchscherer’s hiring as head coach.

The Cascades basketball teams head to Edmonton next weekend to face the MacEwan Griffins.

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