Say this for the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team – they sure didn’t skimp on the drama on the weekend.
Hosting the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack in a series of games with major playoff implications, the Cascades blended a dominant victory with a heartbreaking loss.
The UFV women, ranked No. 3 in the nation, stole defeat from the jaws of victory on Friday evening.
Leading by three points with 10 seconds left in regulation, and with possession of the ball, they somehow managed to lose 72-70 in overtime.
“It was just a shocking series of events,” Cascades coach Al Tuchscherer said. “They stepped up and took it away from us.”
With 10 seconds left, UFV turned the ball over on a sideline inbounds play, but leading by three, they elected to foul and send the WolfPack’s Taiysa Worsfeld to the line for two free throws. Worsfeld made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second, and while Thompson Rivers grabbed the offensive rebound, they turned the ball back over to the Cascades.
But after a timeout, WolfPack guard Jen Ju stole Courtney Bartel’s inbounds pass and hit a jumper to knot the score and send the game to OT.
In the extra session, UFV had the ball with 10 seconds left and the score tied 70-70, but Ju tied up Aiesha Luyken for a jump ball, and the possession arrow was pointing TRU’s way.
WolfPack forward Tracy Kocs drew a foul as time expired, and knocked down two free throws to lift her team to an improbable upset win.
“We pride ourselves on knowing what to do in those situations, and typically we do,” Tuchscherer said. “But we mismanaged it just terribly.
“We were all just stunned. We met the next morning (for shoot-around), and none of us had slept. . . . You wonder how your team is going to react. How will they respond to having their hearts ripped out?”
A loss in Saturday’s rematch would have seriously jeopardized the Cascades’ chances of locking up the No. 1 seed in the Pacific Division, but they responded in impressive fashion, crushing TRU 80-57. UFV essentially ended any suspense in the first half, building a 22-point lead at the break while shooting a scorching 58 per cent.
Sarah Wierks had a monster game with 20 points and 16 rebounds, while Luyken (18 points, six assists) and Kayli Sartori (14 points, eight rebounds) also came up big.
“There was no fear in their eyes,” Tuchscherer said. “They were focused, really, really focused.”
The weekend splits with TRU set up a fascinating final weekend of the regular season for the UFV hoopsters. The UFV women (16-4) are tied with UBC for first place in the Pacific Division, and can lock up the top seed with a pair of wins over Trinity Western (7-13) since they own the tiebreaker with the Thunderbirds.
The Spartans have been eliminated from playoff contention, but they’re on a bit of a roll, having won four of their last six.