The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team turned in its most impressive performance of the season on Friday evening, knocking off a tough UNBC Timberwolves squad 77-70 on the road in Prince George.
Cascades senior forward Shayna Litman (25 points, 15 rebounds) and T-Wolves 6’4” centre Vasiliki Louka (21 points, 14 rebounds) engaged in a sensational head-to-head duel, but it was UFV’s balanced attack which was the difference. Four other Cascades – Sara Simovic (14 points), Victoria Jacobse (11), Taylor Claggett (11) and Amanda Thompson (10) – scored in double figures, and the visitors carved out a 42-32 edge on the boards against the taller UNBC squad.
With the victory, the Cascades (7-10) took possession of a Canada West playoff spot, moving from 13th to 12th in the conference. They can clinch a post-season berth with a second straight win over UNBC (8-11) on Saturday (5 p.m., CanadaWest.tv).
“UNBC is a handful,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said afterward. “They’ve got some elite players who really known how to play the game. I was proud of how we competed tonight. We had some girls step up and do some great things.”
The Cascades were dialed in from the opening tip, racing out to an early 7-2 lead. The T-Wolves responded with a 16-6 run, but a triple from Alexis Worrell followed by a Claggett layup drew UFV back to within 20-18 at the end of the frame.
UNBC led by as many as seven points late in the second quarter, but Simovic scored four quick points to cut the deficit to 35-33 at the break.
The Cascades caught fire offensively in the third, racking up 27 points in the frame. Litman and Claggett did much of the damage early, and Jacobse drilled three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to help her team stake out a 60-53 lead heading to the fourth.
UFV stretched the lead to 72-58 with Jacobse highlighting the surge with five straight points. She drained her third triple of the night, and followed with a steal and then pushed the ball down the floor to earn a pair of free throws.
The T-Wolves weren’t done, though – this is a team that owns quality wins over the Regina Cougars (handing the current No. 2-ranked team in the nation its lone conference loss of the season on Nov. 17) and the UBC Thunderbirds (sweeping a pair of games Nov. 10-11). They fashioned an 11-0 run, capped by Madison Landry layup, to make it a one-possession game at 72-69 with 1:41 left in regulation.
But after the two teams exchanged defensive stops, Thompson swished a huge triple, and Litman grabbed a defensive board on the next UNBC possession, absorbed a foul, and hit a pair of free throws to salt the game away.
Maria Mongomo (16 points) and Landry (15) joined Louka as double-figure scorers for the T-Wolves.
“Shayna stepped up to the challenge of defending Louka,” Tuchscherer said of Litman. “Matching her bucket for bucket and rebound for rebound, it was fun to watch. It was good to see her answer that challenge.
“And obviously Victoria had a really big third quarter for us. I’m happy for her – she’s worked so hard, and shots haven’t necessarily dropped for her this year. It was rewarding to see them fall for her tonight in a really important game for us.”