Assist-happy Cascades pull away from Heat

Unselfish team basketball was the order of the day for the University of the Fraser Valley women’s hoopsters, as they defeated the UBC Okanagan Heat 65-48 on Friday at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.

Of the Cascades’ 25 field goals, 21 of them came via an assist – a remarkable statistic that aptly illustrated the hosts’ focus on sharing the ball.

Shayna Litman was a beneficiary of that ball movement, racking up a season-high 24 points. Six UFV players had at least three assists, led by Taylor Claggett with four, as the Cascades improved to 3-6 in Canada West play. The Heat (0-7) are still looking for their first win.

The two teams lock horns again on Saturday (5 p.m., Envision Financial Athletic Centre,

Amanda Thompson was one of six Cascades with at least three assists on Friday, joining Taylor Claggett, Shayna Litman, Sara Simovic, Kate Head and Jessica Zawada.

“Give the girls credit – tonight they really embraced what we were talking about this week in practice about sharing the ball and finding the open man,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “Twenty-one assists off 25 field goals, it’s huge for us if we can play that way. Teams are going to be doubling down on our posts and causing all sorts of trouble, but if we can find the open man, we should be tough to stop.”

The Cascades ended the first quarter on a 13-2 run to take a 19-12 lead, but the Heat opened the second on an 8-0 run of their own, holding UFV scoreless for five minutes. The balance of the frame, was all Cascades, though – they outscored UBCO 13-4 and took a 32-25 lead into the locker room.

The hosts scored nine of the first 11 points registered in the third to stretch their advantage to double digits, and while the Heat hung around, they were never able to put a serious dent in the Cascades’ lead.

Fifth-year forward Litman added nine rebounds to go with her game-high point total, and Claggett chipped in with nine points and 10 boards. Sara Simovic scored 12 points, and Katelyn Mallette had a solid game off the bench with eight points and five boards. UFV won the rebounding battle 51-28.

Vanessa Botteselle paced the Heat with 11 points, and Brianna Falk scored nine off the bench.

“We’ve been talking about playing as a team and working on our positivity, and that was our huge focus for today,” Litman said. “That definitely carried over. It was awesome – it’s so fun playing with (assist) stats like that. Everybody sharing the ball, everybody getting their shots.”

Taylor Claggett had nine points, 10 boards and four assists for the Cascades.

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