Kayli Sartori took over in the final minute, sparking the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team to a 68-66 road win over the Brandon Bobcats on Saturday evening.
In the Cascades’ final conference game of the fall semester, Sartori saved her best for last. The fifth-year guard/forward from Chilliwack scored a game-high 29 points, including the last four points of the contest at the free throw line. She added a couple clutch defensive plays in the dying seconds to help deliver the victory.
UFV improved to 5-3, good for sixth place in Canada West.
“I think Kayli was not happy with her performance Friday night,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “We need her to be better, and she was. You could see she was focused all afternoon, and she made big plays. You saw her full skill-set on display.”
The Bobcats had handled the Cascades 75-62 on Friday and it looked to be more of the same Saturday – the hosts hit three of their first four attempts from beyond the arc and raced out to a 13-4 lead.
But the Cascades responded with a 12-2 run en route to a 37-35 lead at halftime.
UFV pushed the lead to 52-41 midway through the third quarter after a Sartori and-one layup, but the Bobcats’ Mikaela Stanton heated up at that point – she scored nine points over the next five minutes, including a pair of three-pointers, to cut the deficit to 57-52 heading to the fourth.
The Cascades struggled offensively for much of the final frame.
They reeled off an 8-0 run, capped by Stanton’s fifth triple of the night, to take a 62-60 lead with 2:40 remaining.
The Bobcats’ edge was 64-62 with less than a minute left after UFV’s Taylor Claggett secured a rebound in traffic after a three-point miss by Kylee Howard. Sartori got into the paint, drew a foul with 22 seconds left, and calmly swished both free throws to knot the score.
With the shot clock turned off, the last shot appeared to belong to the Bobcats, but Sartori stepped in front of a pass intended for Cox and bolted the other direction, ultimately drawing contact at the rim with 3.9 seconds left. Once again, she hit both free throws.
After a timeout, Brandon entered the ball to Cox in the post, but her shot over Sartori’s outstretched arms drew iron.
Sartori shot 9-of-13 from the field and 11-of-13 from the charity stripe for 29 points, adding eight rebounds, four steals, two assists and two blocks. Williams finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, and Claggett had 11 points and nine boards.
Keisha Cox had 10 points for the Bobcats after managing 37 the night before, an indicator of UFV’s defensive focus.
“Our game plan was pretty much the same as it was yesterday, we just executed tonight,” Tuchscherer said. “Last night, we left whoever was defending Cox on an island, high and dry. In our video session this morning, we talked about needing five people to stop her and not just one, and I thought the girls really embraced that.
“It was a focused effort tonight with way fewer defensive breakdowns, and we made key plays down the stretch when we needed to. There was an opportunity for us to fade away when they took the two-point lead at the end, but I was proud of the girls for sticking with it and taking it home.”
— Sartori’s effort earned her the Canada West second star of the week.
She currently sits third in Canada West scoring (18.9 points per game) and is also among the conference leaders in assists (3.3 per game, sixth), rebounding (7.5, 14th), blocks (1.0, ninth) and steals (3.6, second).
Her Cascades are off for the Christmas break, returning to action Jan. 6-7 at home against the MacEwan Griffins.