Cascades edge WolfPack to move into playoff position

Canada West scoring leader Kayli Sartori racked up 14 points in UFV's big win over TRU on Friday.

Canada West scoring leader Kayli Sartori racked up 14 points in UFV’s big win over TRU on Friday.

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team clawed out a thrilling 57-56 victory over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on Friday evening to seize control of their own destiny in the Canada West playoff race.

In a gritty defensive battle, a pair of free throws by Katie Brink with 3:16 remaining in the fourth quarter were the last points scored by either team.

The WolfPack’s Jordan MacLean launched a three-pointer with four seconds left which would have given her team the lead, but it drew iron, and off the long rebound, the Cascades were able to dribble out the clock.

UFV improved to 10-7, tied for third place in the Explorer Division with the UBC Okanagan Heat, who lost 68-48 to the MacEwan Griffins on Friday. The Cascades, though, hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, so if they win their three remaining regular-season games, they’ll clinch the division’s third and final playoff berth. The WolfPack (13-4) fall a game off the pace in the race for first place with MacEwan (14-3).

The Cascades and WolfPack renew hostilities on Saturday (5 p.m., Envision Athletic Centre).

“It was a big win, for sure,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer acknowledged afterward. “We were really grinding all night long. Our execution wasn’t great, we weren’t hitting a lot of shots. That really continued into the fourth quarter. And it was similar for them – they weren’t hitting a lot of shots, either.

“We hit some free throws down the stretch, got to the line, made a couple big hoops, and we really just hung on at the end to get the win. It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but it’s important, and we’ll take it at this time of year against a pretty good team.”

Brink led the way for the Cascades with a season-high 18 points, while Canada West scoring leader Kayli Sartori posted 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Rookie forward Taylor Claggett chipped in with nine points and 10 boards.

Point guard Emma Piggin paced the visitors with 15 points, and Michelle Bos went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc en route to 14 points.

Neither team shot the ball very well – the Cascades made just 31 per cent of their field goal attempts, fractionally lower than TRU’s 32.1 per cent mark.

UFV led for most of the first half, by as many as six points, but the WolfPack hung tough and closed the deficit to 31-30 at the break.

TRU reeled off an 11-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters, highlighted by two three-pointers from Piggin and one from Bos, to take a 53-46 lead with 8:35 remaining. But they would score just three points the rest of the way, while Brink and Sartori combined for the Cascades’ last 11 points.

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The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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