Cascades explode in third quarter, cruise past WolfPack 76-67

Sara Simovic (foreground) and Shayna Litman (background) were offensive catalysts for the Cascades as they capped a weekend road sweep at TRU. (UFV Athletics file photo)

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team breathed new life into its playoff hopes, wrapping up a weekend sweep of the Thompson Rivers WolfPack by a score of 76-67 on Saturday evening in Kamloops.

The Cascades, coming off a 59-53 triumph on Friday, found themselves trailing 36-34 at halftime of the rematch, but blitzed the host WolfPack 23-7 in the third quarter to open a double-digit lead they would not relinquish.

UFV was led by its veteran triumvirate of Sara Simovic, Shayna Litman and Taylor Claggett. Fifth-year guard Simovic poured in 14 of her game-high 24 points during the decisive third quarter, and added seven rebounds and five assists. Fellow senior Litman notched a double-double with 23 points and 11 boards. Third-year forward Claggett finished one rebound shy of her second straight double-double, posting 17 points (on perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the field) and nine boards. All told, the trio accounted for 84 per cent of the Cascades’ offence.

Emma Piggin and Makayla Hoey replied with 13 points apiece for Thompson Rivers, which fell to 7-9 in Canada West conference play.

The Cascades boosted their record to 6-10, which leaves them 13th in Canada West, one spot out of a playoff berth with four regular-season games left on their schedule.

“I’m really most excited that we put a solid weekend together,” UFV bench boss Al Tuchscherer said. “We kind of played how I’d envisioned us playing throughout the year. We had a lot of different people being dangerous on the floor, and we played solid defence when we needed to. It was a really good weekend from that perspective.”

After a back-and-forth first half, the Cascades ended the third quarter on a 14-0 run to turn a 43-43 tie into a 57-43 lead heading to the final frame. Simovic scored seven straight points during that spurt. The nine-point final margin was as close as the WolfPack would get the rest of the way.

On Simovic, Litman and Claggett’s statistical dominance, Tuchscherer noted that “those three have been doing that all year.”

“In an lot of respects, they’ve had great seasons individually,” he said. “It hasn’t necessarily translated into wins, but tonight you could see it come together. I was happy for them. And we had a few other kids contribute for us tonight, and that was important for us.”

Tuchscherer lauded the play of sophomore guards Victoria Jacobse and Kate Head in supporting roles, and rookie forward Katelyn Mallette gave the Cascades outstanding minutes during their third-quarter run despite being limited for much of the night due to foul trouble.

The Cascades basketball teams are on a bye next week, returning to action Jan. 26-27 with road games vs. the UNBC Timberwolves.

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