The University of the Fraser Valley women’s hoopsters did their best collective impression of a flame emoji on Saturday evening, turning in a red-hot shooting performance in a 90-44 blowout win over the UBC Okanagan Heat in Kelowna.
In a game they more or less had to win to maintain realistic playoff hopes, the Cascades came through with their best offensive showing of the season.
The Heat came into the weekend with some of the best defensive statistics in the nation, allowing just 54.9 points per game, second-fewest in Canada West, and forcing opponents into a CIS-leading 24.7 turnovers per game.
But after authoring a tough-minded 65-50 win over the Heat on Friday, the Cascades outdid themselves in Saturday’s rematch, particularly in the first half. Head coach Al Tuchscherer’s charges scorched the Heat to the tune of 57 per cent shooting from the field (17-for-30) and 47 per cent shooting from beyond the arc (7-for-17). By the three-minute mark of the second quarter, the Cascades were tripling up on the hosts (39-13), and they led 51-21 lead at the break.
UFV cooled off somewhat in the second half, but continued to expand the lead. They closed the third quarter on a 14-0 run to boost their advantage to 71-37, and pushed the margin well beyond the 40-point threshold in the fourth.
The Cascades (9-7) still trail the Heat (10-6) by a game in the race for the Explorer Division’s third and final playoff spot, but they now own the head-to-head tiebreaker, having won three of four games vs. UBCO. Both teams have four games remaining in the regular season.
“The girls came out with a lot of fire, and just had it happening on both ends of the floor tonight,” Tuchscherer said.
“It was exciting. I thought we had a great week of prep . . . and we challenged them on that this week. They really embraced it, and it all came together tonight after a relatively strong performance last night.”
Sydney Williams and Shayna Cameron lit the fuse on the Cascades’ offensive pyrotechnics in the first half. Put it this way – if they were characters in the old NBA Jam video game, the ball would have burst into flames every time they touched it.
Williams came off the bench to go 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in the first half, while Cameron went 4-for-4 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers. Between them, they poured in 22 points in the opening 20 minutes with just one missed shot between them.
With the Heat forced to respect the Cascades’ perimeter shooting, space opened up inside for Kayli Sartori to take over. The Canada West scoring leader (18.8 points per game) finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with a team-high 19 points, 10 assists and nine boards, while surrendering just one turnover.
Williams (6-for-9 from three-point range) and Cameron finished with 18 and 17 points, respectively, while Taylor Claggett (14 points) and Katie Brink (10 points, nine boards) also scored in double figures.
The Cascades limited the Heat to just 24.6 per cent shooting from the field, and no one from the home side scored in double figures. Robin Aulin-Haynes’s eight points were a team-high.
UFV established season highs for points (90), field goal percentage (49.2) and three-pointers made (12). They also out-rebounded the Heat 47-33.
“I think Syd and Shayna were the recipients of some great ball movement for us,” Tuchscherer said. “That was the No. 1 key for us both nights, sharing the ball, and we have some kids who can finish. Everyone was doing their job. We wanted to go deeper into possessions, and that paid off with some wide-open looks.”
The Cascades basketball teams are at home next weekend vs. the Thompson Rivers WolfPack. Games run Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) at the Envision Athletic Centre.
Friday marks the women’s basketball team’s ninth annual CIS Shoot for the Cure game, along with UFV Alumni Night. Saturday is Senior Night for fifth-year players Cameron and Kevon Parchment of the men’s squad.
“We did what we had to do,” Tuchscherer said, “but we’re still behind this team (UBCO) in the standings. We’ve got to start prepping for next weekend, and we’ve got to have another great week.”