The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team opens its exhibition schedule in high-profile fashion next week, as they host the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs at the Envision Athletic Centre.
The game tips off at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13, and admission is free. Fans are encouraged to bring a food bank donation.
UT-Chattanooga poses a stiff midsummer test for the Cascades – the NCAA Division 1 program is a powerhouse in the Southern Conference. In 2016-17, the Mocs won their 21st Southern Conference regular season title and 18th tournament crown, becoming the first team to win five consecutive SoCon tourney championships. They entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 13 seed, and fell 82-62 in their first-round match-up with No. 4 Louisville.
The Mocs are helmed by head coach Jim Foster, a 2013 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, and return all-conference performer Keiana Gilbert (5’11” guard) along with all-freshman team member Lakelyn Bouldin (5’8” guard).
The Cascades, meanwhile, are coming off their seventh consecutive Canada West playoff appearance. After going 12-8 in the regular season, head coach Al Tuchscherer’s squad defeated the Calgary Dinos in the first round of the post-season and took the eventual conference champion Saskatchewan Huskies to Game 3 in their best-of-three quarter-final series before bowing out.
Key returnees for the Cascades include third-year forward Taylor Claggett (11.8 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game), fifth-year forward Shayna Litman (10.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and fifth-year guard Sara Simovic (9.6 ppg, 2.4 assists per game).
“It’s always exciting to play NCAA teams,” Tuchscherer enthused. “They play a sophisticated brand of basketball, and they generally have some pretty good athletes. It’s challenging in a lot of different ways.
“For us, we’ve always used these games as a chance to get everybody together and have a bit of a mini-camp around it, play a game, see where we are, and then spend the next two or three weeks just working on some of those things we saw in that game before our season kicks off.”
– with files from Chattanooga Mocs sports information