The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team fell 71-59 to the Trinity Western Spartans in the ‘Battle of the Valley’ showdown, held Saturday night at the 7,000 seat Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
The Cascades were moving the ball sharply in the early going and had a lot of success attacking the taller Spartans off the dribble, as they built a 28-15 lead.
But it was all TWU from there.
They drew to within 35-33 at halftime when Janelle Traber knocked down a three-pointer to beat the buzzer. Then, after edging ahead in the third quarter, they ended the frame on an 11-2 run to take control.
Afterward, Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer expressed disappointment that the ball movement that powered his team’s early success evaporated.
“We got really selfish with the ball, and started to go one-on-one, taking a lot of shots that aren’t going to be good shots for us,” he analyzed. “We had an opportunity to put the game away (in the second quarter), and we really just got into ourselves, which is really disappointing to see from our squad.”
Knocking off a nationally ranked team in the No. 10 Cascades marks another step in the rejuvenation of the Spartans women’s basketball program. Last season, TWU went 3-21 in league play, but this year they’re 8-7, closing the gap on UFV (10-5) for second place in the Pacific.
“UFV is a great team – they’ve been doing great things with their program, they’ve been winning big games against tough teams,” Spartans head coach Cheryl Jean-Paul noted. “So for us to take this game is huge for our program.”
The Cascades won the rebounding battle in the first quarter, but the Spartans’ towering front line of Laurelle Weigl (six-foot-four), Tiffany Olsen (six-foot-two) and Holly Strom (five-foot-eleven) seemed to wear them down as the game wore on.
“There aren’t a lot of teams that rebound as well as they (the Cascades) do in the country, and I think that showed in the first quarter,” Jean-Paul said. “But I think in terms of being able to sustain that over 40 minutes, the depth of our bench really was a factor.
“Most of the good teams we’ve played against have six or seven players that come onto the floor and contribute, whereas we have seven, eight, nine, 10 girls that can come on and do their part.”
Weigl paced the Spartans with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Emily Knauff (16 points) and Olsen (11) also hit double figures. UFV’s Aieisha Luyken and Kayli Sartori tied for team-high scoring honours with 11 points, while Chilliwack’s Sarah Wierks had nine points and nine rebounds.