Cascades heat up in second half to beat Cougars, clinch playoff berth

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team put on a phenomenal shooting display in the second half on Friday evening to spark a 70-53 victory over the Mount Royal Cougars in Calgary.

The Cascades started slowly – they shot just 31.3 per cent from the field in the first half, and coughed up 12 turnovers compared to just three for the hosts. They found themselves trailing 28-27 at the break after Mount Royal’s Angela Driscoll spun in the lane and banked in a buzzer-beater.

But it was a distinctly different story in the second half.

The Cascades opened the third quarter on a 19-0 run, and cruised from there. They shot 55.2 per cent from the field (16-for-29) and 60 per cent from beyond the arc (9-for-15) in the second half, with just three turnovers against 10 for the Cougars.

The victory boosted the Cascades’ record to 12-7, and allowed them to lock up the third and final Explorer Division playoff berth. It’s the program’s sixth straight trip to the Canada West post-season, and they will host a best-of-three first-round series against a yet-to-be-determined opponent from the Pioneer Division next week.

“Particularly in the third quarter, we started moving the ball around more,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said, reflecting on the factors that ignited his team’s second-half surge. “We played our style of basketball, where the ball didn’t get sticky. We found the open man, and good things happen when we play that way.

“The other main difference was, we were much more active defensively, and we were able to create some easy buckets from our defence. We tend to build on that momentum, when we get a couple easy ones.”

UFV’s Katie Brink (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Kayli Sartori (16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three blocks) tied for team-high scoring honours, while Shayna Cameron (13 points, 3-of-4 from three-point range) and Sydney Williams (12 points, 4-of-10 from three) were deadly from long distance.

Driscoll paced the Cougars with 14 points and five steals.

The Cascades and Cougars (2-17) wrap up the regular season on Saturday in Calgary (5 p.m. Mountain time, webcast at ufv.canadawest.tv).

“I think it’s important that we capture some of that momentum again tomorrow,” Tuchscherer said. “It’s really important that the girls understand we need to be playing well moving into the playoffs.”

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