The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team put on a defensive clinic on Saturday evening, knocking off the reigning national champion Saskatchewan Huskies 59-48 at the Envision Athletic Centre.
The Cascades limited the Huskies to 22.4 per cent shooting from the field and won the rebounding battle by a 48-38 margin en route to victory.
Kayli Sartori, who had an off night in the Huskies’ 53-44 victory on Friday, bounced back in a big way, stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of 23 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Saskatchewan, No. 9 in the U Sports national rankings, were led offensively by Sascha Lichtenwald (14 points) and Summer Masikewich (13 points).
“It was an important win for us tonight,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “Our girls have worked hard through our exhibition schedule, and haven’t really had a lot to show for it. So tonight was big for them from that standpoint, to see that they are making some strides in our game, particularly at the defensive end of the floor, which hopefully can become one of our calling cards.”
The Huskies held a slender 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Cascades owned the second – they outscored the visitors 20-11, with Sartori pouring in 11 points in the frame.
UFV maintained a double-digit lead for most of the third quarter, but Saskatchewan opened the fourth on a 6-0 run to cut the Cascades’ lead to 43-39. The hosts, though, executed well down the stretch, with each member of their crunch-time lineup – Sartori, Sydney Williams, Taylor Claggett, Sara Simovic and Shayna Litman – hitting shots to put the game out of reach.
Litman finished with 11 points, while Claggett posted nine points and 10 boards.
“Tonight our veterans led us, and it’s important for them to experience that,” Tuchscherer said.
“I think our D was pretty tough for two days in a row here. We forced a lot of tough shots, and we’ve been talking about that. A lot of things we’ve been talking about defensively have come together her a little bit. But we’re young and still fragile, and it’s a matter of doing that consistently now.
“And then rebounding, I thought it was a pretty gritty performance from us tonight. We’re not going to out-size or be more athletic than teams, but we’d better be grittier than teams when we play them, and that was a big reason why we out-boarded them tonight.”
UFV and Saskatchewan emerge from opening weekend with matching 1-1 records. Up next for the Cascades is a home-and-home set next weekend against their local rivals, the Trinity Western Spartans – Friday at the EAC (6 p.m.) and Saturday at the Langley Events Centre (4 p.m.). The Huskies’ home openers are on tap – they host Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday.