Simovic’s fourth-quarter scoring spurt powers Cascades past Cougars

A fourth-quarter scoring outburst from Sara Simovic sparked the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team to a 76-64 victory over the Mount Royal Cougars on Saturday evening.

The Cascades, coming off a 68-47 victory over the Cougars on Friday, trailed 48-47 heading to the fourth quarter of Saturday’s rematch at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre. But that’s when Simovic caught fire. The fifth-year guard from Nanaimo, B.C. scored 11 of her 17 points in the final frame, highlighted by a trio of three-pointers, as the hosts pulled away.

UFV leveled its record at 2-2, while the Cougars fell to 0-4.

“I had a really bad first half, and I had to pull it out somehow because we needed it,” Simovic said afterward. “It was a close game, kind of scary, so you just find it within. I think it was just not second-guessing myself at all – just grab it, shoot it. I knew I was shooting before I even got it, and that’s probably why it went in.”

The Cascades built a 20-15 lead after the first quarter, but the Cougars hung tough and cut the deficit to 34-33 at the break after Michelle Tiffany hit a layup at the buzzer. Taylor Claggett carried the Cascades offensively over the first 20 minutes, racking up 11 points.

Taylor Claggett posted 18 points and seven rebounds on Saturday.

The visitors leveraged their size advantage in the paint – they outrebounded UFV 52-45 for the game – and edged ahead in the third quarter, setting the stage for Simovic. She hit three-pointers on back-to-back possessions midway through the frame, but Tiffany responded with a couple treys of her own to keep the Cougars close. Simovic wasn’t done, though – she converted a driving layup followed by her third triple of the quarter to put UFV up 68-60 with 2:30 left, and the Cascades kept the Cougars at bay from there.

“I’m happy for Sara,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “She had a real big fourth quarter for us and knocked down some shots, and we know that she can be that sort of player. She hasn’t been playing with a lot of confidence, and even in the first half, I didn’t think she was fantastic tonight. We talked about that at halftime, and she really responded to that.”

The Cascades’ outstanding forward duo of Shayna Litman (20 points, seven rebounds) and Claggett (18 points, seven rebounds, four assists) also had huge performances.

Tiffany paced the Cougars with 14 poins, while Erin Kehrig (13 points) and Abbey Gillette (12) also scored in double figures.

The Cascades basketball teams hit the road next week to face the Regina Cougars.

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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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