Road-weary Cascades edged 64-62 by Heat

Shayna Litman notched a season-high 23 points, but the UBCO Heat clawed out a two-point win over the road-weary Cascades.

Playing under unusually adverse circumstances, the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team dropped a 64-62 decision on the road to the UBC Okanagan Heat on Friday evening.

The Cascades’ scheduled departure for Kelowna on Thursday had been postponed by a day due to treacherous road conditions, and with the Coquihalla Highway closed for much of Friday, they had to take an alternative route (Highway 3 through Princeton and Penticton) and only arrived at the gym an hour and a half before game time. The winding journey took its toll – starting point guard Sara Simovic suffered an acute case of motion sickness and was unable to suit up vs. the Heat.

Factor in that with UFV closed for much of the week due to snow and ice storms, the Cascades managed just one full practice before hitting the road, and it was little wonder that they were out of sorts on Friday evening.

“We have every excuse in the book for that game – honestly, it was a victory just getting up here today,” said UFV bench boss Al Tuchscherer, who has seen his share of travel horror stories over 15 years at the helm of the Cascades. “To arrive an hour and a half before tip-off, and all of our routines this week have been out of whack – limited prep time and practice time. But you’ve got to overcome that stuff.

“We need to compete a lot better tomorrow, mentally and physically.”

Turnovers were the Cascades’ undoing on Friday – they shot eight per cent better from the field than did the host Heat (40.4 to 32.4), paced by Shayna Litman’s game-high 23 points, but gave the ball away 27 times compared to just 14 such miscues for UBCO.

The playoff-bound Cascades fell to 11-8, tied for eighth in Canada West, while the Heat – already eliminated from post-season contention – improved to 4-15. The two teams clash again on Saturday evening in Kelowna (5 p.m., webcast at ufv.canadawest.tv).

UFV trailed for much of the first quarter on Friday, but ended the second on a 10-5 surge to take a 33-31 lead into the break, with rookie guard Victoria Jacobse sparking the visitors off the bench.

The Cascades held a slim lead for much of the third, and appeared poised to pull away after scoring five straight points bridging the third and fourth quarters to go up 53-47. But UFV went scoreless for the next six-plus minutes, surrendering three turnovers and five offensive rebounds to the Heat during that stretch as the hosts reeled off a 14-0 run.

Jacobse finally snapped the Cascades’ scoring drought with a left-handed runner in traffic to ignite an 8-2 run, and UFV was back to within 63-61 after Taylor Claggett’s layup with 28 seconds left. Kayli Sartori came up huge on the next UBCO possession, snaring a steal and absorbing a foul in the process, sending her to the free throw line with a chance to knot the score. She missed the first but made the second to make it 63-62, and the Heat’s Nicole Hart, after being intentionally fouled, also went 1-for-2 to restore the two-point UBCO edge.

The Cascades had 17 seconds to tie or take the lead, but Sartori missed a driving layup, and after Amanda Thompson collected the rebound, Sydney Williams’s potential game-winning shot from beyond the arc was blocked by the Heat’s Emily Kanester.

Litman supplemented her season-high point total with five rebounds, and Claggett (10 points), Sartori (nine points, 10 rebounds, four assists) and Jacobse (seven points, six rebounds) also chipped in for UFV.

UBCO’s Kanester drilled four triples en route to a team-leading 21 points, and Choe Kennedy (12 points) and Hart (10) also scored in double figures.

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The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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