The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team wrapped up the Canada West regular season with a 67-55 road win over the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday, earning the right to host a home playoff series in the process.
By virtue of the victory, the Cascades (12-8) locked up the No. 8 spot in the conference’s RPI standings and will host the No. 9 Calgary Dinos (11-9) in a best-of-three first-round series next weekend at the Envision Athletic Centre.
Taylor Claggett and Sara Simovic had impactful performances on Saturday to pace the Cascades. Claggett, a sophomore power forward, had a huge double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while point guard Simovic racked up 18 points. Simovic’s return to the lineup was a huge boon to the UFV squad – she had missed Friday’s 64-62 loss to UBCO due to a severe case of motion sickness.
Fifth-year guard/forward Kayli Sartori stuffed the stat sheet in her final Canada West regular-season game, posting 10 points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals and a block. As a team, the Cascades dug in defensively, limiting UBCO to 27.8 per cent shooting from the field.
Claire Elliott (16 points), Chloe Kennedy (15) and Emily Kanester (12) scored in double figures for the Heat, who will miss the playoffs with a 4-16 record.
“It was a good bounce-back from us tonight,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer observed. “The girls played with a lot of determination . . . they knew going into the weekend what was at stake here – a home playoff series.”
The Cascades raced out to a 22-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and were up 37-27 at halftime, before gaining some serious separation in the third. UFV outscored the hosts 20-13 in the frame to stretch their advantage to 17 points.
The Heat opened the fourth on a 7-0 run, but Syd Williams knocked down a three on the Cascades’ next possession and UBCO never threatened again.
“It’s a different game when Sara’s there,” Tuchscherer noted afterward. “I don’t think we realized until last night what an impact she was having on our game. Her contribution might not always be obvious in the box score, but we were definitely more organized tonight.
“And that was classic Taylor Claggett tonight. She was banging in and around the rim all night long, got a lot of second-chance opportunities and created some easy ones for herself.”
BOUNCE PASSES: Looking ahead to the Cascades’ first-round playoff match-up, they split a pair of games in Calgary this season, falling 69-59 to the Dinos on Jan. 12 before bouncing back for a 69-60 win the next night. . . . Games are scheduled for Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (5 p.m.) and Sunday (5 p.m., if necessary) at the EAC. . . . Claggett finished second in Canada West field goal percentage (52.3 per cent) and fifth in rebounding (8.4 per game), while Sartori is top-five in scoring (fifth, 16.4 ppg) and steals (fourth, 3.0 spg).