The Regina Cougars lived up to their advance billing, posting a 100-61 victory over the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team on Friday.
The host Cougars, ranked No. 1 in the nation, got an outstanding performance from Kyanna Giles – the reigning U SPORTS rookie of the year racked up a game-high 27 points and added five rebounds as Regina improved to 3-0 in Canada West conference play.
The Cascades (2-3) dealt with some significant adversity, as leading scorer Shayna Litman was a late scratch due to injury. In her absence, rookie forward Katelyn Mallette stepped into the starting lineup and excelled, establishing new career highs for minutes (36), points (12), rebounds (eight) and blocks (two).
UFV, though, fell behind 54-26 at the half, before regrouping to outscore the Cougars 21-19 in the third quarter.
“We’re clearly playing one of the elite teams in the country tonight, and we’re quite a ways away from that at this point,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “You use these games as learning experiences, and your young kids can hopefully learn what it takes to play at that level. It’s not always fun, but they’re necessary steps.”
The Cougars set the tone in the first half with two big runs that gave them a stranglehold on the game. They went on a 20-2 run in the first quarter, then reeled off 13 consecutive points in the second to help them build a 28-point lead at halftime. The Cascades opened the second half on a 16-6 run to cut the Regina lead to 18, but that was as close as the visitors would come as the Cougars poured in another 13 straight points to put the game away.
The Cascades had four players score in double figures, with Sara Simovic (16 points), Taylor Claggett (14 points, eight boards) and Jessica Zawada (11 points, 3-for-5 from three-point range) joining Mallette.
The Cougars shot 50.7 per cent in the win, in large part to Giles going 10-for-15 from the field. Charlotte Kot chipped in with 14 points, rookie Faith Reid had 12, and Sara Hubenig scored 10.
Tuchscherer noted that Litman’s injury “obviously hurt us,” but noted that it created a growth experience for Mallette.
“I thought she jumped in with both feet, and all things considered, she had an impact on the game,” he said.
“At halftime, we talked about what we were trying to get out of this game. We knew it was going to be a challenge to play against this team, and then you face a little bit of adversity. We talked about it as an opportunity to rise to that challenge. I thought the girls came out with a purpose in the third quarter, and they closed the gap a bit.”
The Cascades and Cougars close out the weekend series Saturday night (6 p.m. Central / 4 p.m. Pacific, CanadaWest.tv).
– with files from Regina Cougars sports information