The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team turned in a tough-minded performance on the road on Friday evening, earning a 65-50 win over the UBC Okanagan Heat in Kelowna.
In a game with significant playoff implications, Sydney Williams sparked the Cascades off the bench with her long-distance shooting – the sophomore guard from Langley, B.C. drilled five of her 10 attempts from beyond the arc to account for all 15 of her points.
Canada West scoring leader Kayli Sartori tied Williams for team-high scoring honours with 15 points of her own, to go with 13 rebounds, six assists and three blocks, as the Cascades improved to 8-7 on the season. UBCO fell to 10-5.
The two teams clash again on Saturday in Kelowna (5 p.m. tip-off, webcast at ufv.canadawest.tv). UFV will be looking to gain more ground in its pursuit of the third and final playoff spot in the Explorer Division, which UBCO currently holds.
“I thought the girls played with a lot of determination tonight, and we need to play with determination right now,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “And I thought they really stuck to the game plan. For the entire game, they really stayed true to what we were trying to do.
“We’re in full playoff mode right now. It was nice to get a win tonight, but we need to come back and get a win tomorrow. We have to compete every night.”
The Heat came into Friday’s action sporting some gaudy defensive numbers – they were allowing just 54.9 points per game, second-fewest in Canada West, and were forcing their opponents to turn the ball over a conference-best 24.7 times per game.
The Cascades managed to buck those trends, exceeding the Heat’s points-allowed-per-game benchmark by 10 points and surrendering just 15 turnovers.
Tuchscherer’s squad brought great energy on offence from the opening tip, moving the ball smartly and building a 20-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
They stretched the advantage as high as 15 points in the second quarter, and took a 37-25 lead into the break.
But midway through the third quarter, UBCO went on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 44-36, all nine points in that stretch coming courtesy of Emily Kanester.
Williams’s fifth triple of the night pushed the lead back to 14 points late in the third, but the Heat kept chipping away. Sartori picked up her fourth foul with 6:19 remaining in regulation and headed to the bench, and on the ensuing UBCO possession, Kanester fired up a deep three-pointer with the shot clock winding down that found nothing but net, drawing the hosts back to within 54-46.
The Cascades, though, responded with an 11-2 run to put the game away, capped by a Shayna Cameron three-pointer off a Sartori assist.
Katie Brink scored 12 points for the Cascades, including several key buckets down the stretch, and Taylor Claggett hauled down 10 rebounds to go with seven points. UFV out-rebounded UBCO 50-38 for the game.
Kanester scored a game-high 18 points, but was the only Heat player in double figures.
Tuchscherer lauded the impact Williams made off the bench.
“I think Syd’s learning to take shots within the flow of what we’re trying to do offensively,” he said. “You can see that paying off, really, in the last three or four games. She’s doing what we need her to do.”