The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team broke the game open in the third quarter on Friday, pulling away for a decisive 68-47 victory over the Mount Royal Cougars in their home opener.
Offence was slow to materialize for both teams in the first half at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre, which ended with the Cascades holding a 26-20 lead.
The third quarter was a different story – UFV outscored the Cougars 27-11 in the frame, mustering more points over that 10-minute stretch than they had in the entire first half.
The Cascades (1-2) and Cougars (0-3) clash again on Saturday evening (5 p.m. tip-off, Envision Financial Athletic Centre).
“I thought we were getting good shots in the first half, and we just encouraged the girls to continue to look for those good shots,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said, analyzing his team’s third-quarter explosion. “They’ve got to start falling for us eventually. We haven’t been playing with a ton of confidence, and it was good to kind of break out in the third quarter. We made some easy ones in transition, and then we knocked down some (outside) shots and had a couple fortunate buckets. It was good to see. I think we really needed that quarter.”
The Cascades opened a 15-5 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Cougars clawed out a 15-11 edge in the second to cut the deficit to six at the break. Neither team shot the ball well – UFV hit 22.2 per cent of their attempts from the field, to MRU’s 24.1.
The hosts found the range in the third, shooting 61.1 per cent in the frame, punctuated by a 14-0 run. Cascades third-year forward Taylor Claggett racked up seven points during that spurt, and UFV cruised from there.
Claggett (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Shayna Litman (16 points, 12 rebounds) both had huge double-doubles and helped the Cascades out-rebound the Cougars 53-41. Sara Simovic notched 10 points and six assists, and Jessica Zawada contributed nine points off the bench.
Erin Kehrig (10 points) was the lone Mount Royal player to score in double figures, and Cougars forwards Becky Nash and Charity Marlatt hauled down nine boards apiece.
“We knew this was going to be a tough battle on the boards,” Tuchscherer noted. “They’re a good rebounding team, and obviously they have some length with Nash (6’5”) in the middle, and Charity coming off the bench is a real physical presence. It was a real focus going into this game that we wanted to take care of the boards, and I think the girls took that to heart.
“Taylor can score in a number of different ways, and she had a really big third quarter for us, for sure. She got some stuff in transition, hit some medium-range shots, so that was good. You hit a few of those, and everybody starts feeling better about themselves. Then Shayna hits a couple shots, and I thought Sara did a good job facilitating in the second half.”