Cascade women grounded by Griffen grinders

The University of the Fraser Valley womens' basketball team ran into the Grant MacEwan buzz-saw in CIS action last weekend.

The MacEwan Griffins women’s basketball team salvaged a weekend split on the road vs. the UFV Cascades, earning a 63-59 victory on Saturday evening at the Envision Athletic Centre.

The Griffins led for much of the game, but the Cascades battled back to knot the score 59-59 on Kayli Sartori’s spin move and finish in the lane with 49 seconds left.

But MacEwan reclaimed the lead when point guard Kendall Lydon drove into the paint and threaded a pass through to Megan Wood for a layup. Sartori was whistled for traveling on the ensuing UFV possession, and Lydon went 2-for-2 at the free throw line to seal the victory.

MacEwan improved to 3-1 behind 21 points and nine rebounds from Wood, and a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) from Kelly Fagan.

Chilliwack’s Sartori led all scorers with 24 points and added 11 rebounds in a stellar performance for the Cascades (2-2). Sydney Williams added 16 points, including three treys, to the Cascades’ cause.

“I thought MacEwan really responded tonight,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “They came in and you could tell they had a purpose in their step. Their veteran players came in and played hard, and I think our youth showed a little bit tonight. We had some execution errors, we made some silly foul-type errors, and a little too much on the turnover side (22 for the game) as well.

“But I’m really proud of the girls’ effort tonight. We had some adversity with some injuries and some sickness here, and I thought we just met it head-on. The girls played hard, and they were in it right to the last possession of the game which bodes well for our team moving forward.”

UFV jumped out to a 6-0 lead within two minutes of tip-off with consecutive three-balls from Williams and Sartori, but the Griffins settled in defensively and took control of the first quarter after that. MacEwan, led by Wood’s six points, outscored the Cascades 16-6 to carry a four-point lead into the second.

The Cascades would claw back and tie it, but once again, MacEwan found their groove and imposed their will with a 10-0 run. UFV would prove resilient, though, as Sartori came alive. The fourth-year forward contributed six points, one assist, three defensive boards and a steal in the final five minutes of the half to help her team close the gap to 34-29 at the half.

The teams traded baskets in the third, with MacEwan getting a big push from Fagan’s eight points and five boards in the quarter. The see-saw battle continued throughout the final frame, with MacEwan trying to fend off a UFV team desperately searching to steal the win.

A 7-2 run drew UFV level for the first time since early in the second quarter, but the Griffins made some big plays in the final minute to secure the win.

UFV will look to improve next weekend with two games against the UNBC Timberwolves in Prince George.