Thursday: Cascades (12-8 regular season, 2-1 playoffs, No. 8 seed in Canada West) at Saskatchewan Huskies (15-5 regular season, No. 1 seed in Canada West), 6:30 p.m. Central / 4:30 p.m. Pacific
Friday: Cascades at Huskies, 6:30 p.m. Central / 4:30 p.m. Pacific
*Saturday: Cascades at Huskies, 2 p.m. Central / 12 p.m. Pacific (if necessary)
Physical Activity Complex, University of Saskatchewan
The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team, coming off a stirring comeback to defeat the Calgary Dinos in their first-round best-of-three playoff series last weekend, hit the road to take on the top-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West quarter-finals.
The Huskies, in the words of Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer, pose “a monumental challenge.” Saskatchewan is the reigning national champion, albeit with a somewhat different roster, and they earned home-court advantage throughout the playoffs after posting a 0.6095 RPI against a tough slate of opponents. Furthermore, they’re coming off a first-round bye, while the Cascades slugged it out last weekend in a gruelling series vs. the Dinos.
“For us, we just need to throw all that stuff out the window and come ready to play our game, ready to compete hard,” Tuchscherer said. “If we do those things we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
The Huskies do a lot of things well – they’ve got Canada West’s fourth-ranked offence (70.3 points per game) and third-ranked defence (59.3 points against per game), and their +6.4 rebounding margin is second-best in the conference.
Standout point guard Sabine Dukate is the Huskies’ leader – she finished seventh in the league in both scoring (16.2 ppg) and assists (3.6 apg), and hits 37 per cent of her shots from beyond the arc. Megan Lindquist leads the way for Saskatchewan on the boards, averaging 6.3 rebounds per game to go with 10.0 points.
The Cascades’ Kayli Satori, Shayna Litman and Taylor Claggett, in particular, are coming into the series with a lot of momentum. Sartori leads the conference in playoff scoring at 20.7 points per game and was named the Canada West female second star of the week, Litman racked up a game-high 22 points in Game 3 vs. Calgary, and Claggett was arguably the most consistent UFV player in the series averaging 9.7 points and 9.3 rebounds.
Furthermore, UFV already owns a win over the Huskies this season, albeit with Dukate sidelined. The two teams faced off on opening weekend in Abbotsford, with Saskatchewan winning the opener 53-44 before the Cascades bounced back the next night for a 59-48 win.
“I don’t think Saskatchewan is a team that we’re fearful of,” Tuchscherer said. “We’re very respectful of who they are and what they’ve done this year, but we played them two pretty competitive games early in the season. It wasn’t with their best player, but we’ve grown a lot this year. Even this past weekend, Calgary brought out some of our best basketball of the season.”