The UBC Thunderbirds locked it down on defence in the fourth quarter to earn a 62-48 win over the UFV Cascades in Game 1 of their Canada West women’s basketball first-round playoff series.
Playing at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre on Friday evening, the Thunderbirds held a slim 43-41 lead heading into the fourth quarter. But they outscored the Cascades 19-7 in the final frame to claim a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three set.
The Cascades will look to extend the series in Game 2, which goes Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Envision Athletic Centre. Game 3, if necessary, would tip off at 5 p.m. on Sunday at the EAC.
“Just a really disappointing approach to the game tonight,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said, analyzing his team’s performance. “We were really caught up in the moment. We didn’t execute how we wanted to execute, and we were really individual on both ends of the court. That led to a lot of frustration, and I think that showed tonight. We’ve got a lot to figure out in the next 24 hours, for sure.”
The Cascades had a promising start, scoring on their first two possessions to go up 4-0. But they failed to score another point for five minutes and the two teams ended the first quarter deadlocked at 11-11.
UBC led 25-24 at the half, and gained some separation with a 9-0 run midway through the third quarter, highlighted by a Shilpa Khanna three-pointer, to go up 40-32.
The Cascades responded with some long-distance pyrotechnics of their own, swishing triples on three straight possessions – two by Sydney Williams and one by Hailey Kendall – to cut the deficit to 42-41 late in the third quarter.
The T-Birds, though, pulled away in the fourth – they held the Cascades scoreless over the last five-plus minutes of the game, while scoring 10 points of their own during that span with treys from Diana Lee and Khanna.
Canada West scoring champ Kayli Sartori posted game-high totals of 17 points and 12 rebounds, but the only other UFV player to score in double digits was Shayna Cameron with 10. UBC had four double-digit scorers – Jessica Hanson (13 points), Kara Spotton (11), Adrienne Parkin (10) and Khanna (10).
“I thought both teams were tight coming out – I don’t think either team played their best basketball in the first half,” UBC head coach Deb Huband said. “We’ve been working hard on our defence, and when you play good team defence, you can give yourself a little bit of room to underperform offensively, which I think we did for a portion of the game. But I think we really locked down in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.”
The Cascades’ struggles on offence weren’t limited to the fourth quarter. They shot just 33.3 per cent from the field for the game, which wasn’t much worse than UBC’s 36.7 per cent mark. But what really hurt them were the 26 turnovers they surrendered against the T-Birds’ aggressive ball denial in the passing lanes. UBC had just 13 turnovers.
“I think you’ve got to give credit to UBC,” Tuchscherer said. “But we’ve got to adjust to that. We knew what UBC was going to do, and we prepped for that this week. You never really know until you get into the game, and once we got into the game, we never adjusted to the type of pressure they were going to apply. That was disappointing to me.”
The Cascades and T-Birds posted identical 9-for-23 performances from beyond the arc, while UFV won the rebounding battle 45-37.