A dominant first quarter gave the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team the momentum they needed to begin the second half of the season on a winning note.
The Cascades, opening their 2016 schedule in front of their home fans at the Envision Athletic Centre, blitzed the visiting Mount Royal Cougars 25-5 in the opening frame. The visitors mounted a strong push in the second half, but UFV’s advantage proved insurmountable in a 73-58 victory.
The Cascades (5-4) and the Cougars (1-8) renew hostilities on Saturday evening at 5 p.m. at the Envision Athletic Centre.
“It was the start that we wanted – we were energized, we played some tough D, and we were sharing the ball,” analyzed Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer, whose team was up 41-16 at halftime. “It was a great way to start the second half of the season.
“The second half of the game wasn’t very good for us, and we need to learn to play for 40 minutes. That’s definitely something we need to take away from this game and continue to work on. It’s not just good enough to play quality basketball for 20 minutes. We need to put it together for 40 minutes, and tonight we didn’t do that.”
Rookie forward Taylor Claggett set the tone offensively for the Cascades – she racked up a career-high 23 points in exceedingly efficient fashion, shooting 9-for-10 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line.
Canada West scoring leader Kayli Sartori chipped in with 17 points, and fellow fourth-year player Katie Brink celebrated her return to the lineup by scoring 13 points and hauling down seven rebounds. The 6’2” forward had missed all of the Cascades’ conference games in the first semester due to a knee injury.
Mount Royal cut the deficit to 13 points with just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and Becky Nash, the Cougars’ towering 6’4” centre, paced her team’s comeback effort with 14 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Angela Driscoll (10 points) also scored in double figures.
Tuchscherer was pleased to see Claggett continue her strong rookie campaign, and with Brink’s return to the court.
“Taylor was fantastic tonight,” he said. “It’s exciting to see her have that production even on a night where we bring Katie Brink back into the lineup. She needs to find different ways to score, and she did that tonight and that’s exciting.
“Katie’s a great talent, and another experienced player for us. You saw her take two charges tonight for us – that’s a big part of her game. She has the ability to impact the game on both ends of the court, and you saw flashes of that tonight. By no means was that her best performance, but it was a start, and it was really nice to have her back.”