A red-hot start powered the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team to a 74-65 triumph over the Regina Cougars on Saturday at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.
On a night where the Cascades celebrated the careers of graduating players Taylor Claggett and Amanda Thompson, they raced out to an 18-6 lead over the first five minutes of play.
From there, they weathered several Regina runs on their way to their 11th straight victory.
It was the Canada West regular-season finale for both teams; UFV (16-4) will host Thompson Rivers in the first round of the playoffs, while Regina (8-12) visits the Victoria Vikes.
“You’re never sure whether the players are maybe too excited to play for their seniors, so there’s always that worry,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said afterward. “But clearly, we jumped right out of the gate and had a tremendous first quarter, and that really carried us for the rest of the game.
“The other thing that really impressed me about our team was, Regina made a few runs, and we’re really comfortable in that situation now. A team makes a run against us, and we bear down and we’re able to pull away a little bit again.”
The Cascades scored on seven of their first eight offensive possessions, capped by back-to-back triples from Nikki Cabuco, to seize control early. Regina battled back and cut the deficit to 28-21 after Madeline Tell and Zoe Hartmann hit consecutive triples to open the second quarter, but UFV held them scoreless over the next four-plus minutes and extended the lead to 35-21. At the half, the hosts led 39-30.
The Cougars opened the third on an 11-2 run to get back to within two at 43-41, but a quick 8-0 response from the Cascades, highlighted by triples from Deanna Tuchscherer and Alexis Worrell, stemmed the tide. UFV would push the lead back to 14 before a late Regina push got it to 72-65 with just over a minute left in regulation, but Claggett inserted the dagger, hitting a floater in the lane with the shot clock winding down.
Regina head coach Dave Taylor noted that his team never was able to recover after falling behind by double digits early.
“They came out on fire, and talented teams, when you let them get going like that, they start hitting everything because they’re talented,” Taylor said. “Al does a great job with running stuff, and they made some great adjustments from yesterday. Both days, they came out on fire shooting the ball. Fortunately the first night we were able to score and keep it close, tonight we couldn’t.”
Deanna Tuchscherer bolstered her CW rookie of the year candidacy with a game-high 20 points, Claggett stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and Cabuco scored nine off the bench. Thompson’s final regular-season game saw her post six points, three rebounds and two assists.
Tell (15 points), Michaela Kleisinger (14 points, six assists) and Macaela Crone (12) all scored in double digits for the Cougars.
Afterward, the Cascades retreated to the dressing room to celebrate with Senior Night honourees Claggett and Thompson and reflect on their careers.
“We had a little bit of adversity at the front end of their careers, and it didn’t go exactly how we thought it was going to go,” Tuchscherer said, “I’m just really happy that this year they’ve been able to thrive individually, and our team has been able to thrive, so they’ve been able to experience a season like that. You can do nothing but just thank them for the full effort and work and leaders they’ve been. They’re all-time Cascades.”