The University of the Fraser Valley Cascades women’s basketball team earned a weekend split with the Canada West leading University of Alberta Pandas.
The Cascades edged the Pandas 69-63 Friday night at Abbotsford’s Envision Athletic Centre.
It was the first time the Cascades have beaten the Pandas — UFV went 0-4 in previous exhibition and conference action.
The Cascades came out strong, opening with a 9-2 lead before the Pandas roared back.
The Albertans held a six point lead at half time.
UFV stayed within striking distance as the second half progressed, trailing by five points as the third quarter came to an end. The fourth quarter belonged to the locals as they out- scored their opponents by 11 points. UFV held off a late rally by Alberta to clinch their eighth victory of the 2010-11 season.
Four Cascades hit double figures in scoring, led by Chilliwack’s Nicole Wierks with a team high 15 points. Winnipeg’s Tessa Klassen added 14 while Sarah Wierks (Chilliwack) and Aieisha Luyken (Mission) chipped in with 13 each.
Sarah Wierks led all Cascades with 12 total rebounds, with UFV pulling down 39 for the game. Klassen and Luyken also record four assists each in the victory.
“This was an important win tonight against a very good Alberta team. I thought the team was really committed to the game plan and even when we were down early in the fourth quarter they stayed dedicated to each other,” said UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer. “I think it was also important to establish ourselves as more than a three-point shooting team. Alberta took that away from us, and we found other ways to score.”
Saturday’s rematch wasn’t nearly as pleasant, with the Pandas taking a 70-52 decision. The Cascades led 15-14 after one quarter, but a dismal second quarter left them facing a 35-22 half-time deficit.
The Pandas limited UFV to 11 third quarter points, opening up a 20 point lead.
“Alberta showed why they came into the weekend as the top team in the Canada West conference,” Tuchscherer noted. “They played physical, controlled the pace of the game and really forced us to rush shots on offence. These are the lessons we need to learn if we are going to break through against the league’s best.”
Klassen led UFV with 18 points with Luyken hitting for 11.
The Wierks sisters pulled down five rebounds apiece, but the Cascades were only able to collect 20 total rebounds.
UFV returns to action Jan. 28-29, hosting Regina.
See www.ufv.ca/athletics for more UFV basketball information.