Cascade women play for bronze Sunday at CIS basketball nationals

Windsor — The UFV Cascades will face the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the bronze medal match at the CIS nationals on Sunday, March 16 at 2 pm PST. The game will be streamed online at www.CIS-SIC.tv

The UFV Cascades women’s basketball team were simply outmatched Saturday against a very strong Windsor Lancers squad, losing 65-45 in the CIS nationals round of four. The game was played in front of a boisterous home crowd in Windsor, Ontario, and despite a terrific effort from the Cascades (who led by a point, 25-24, at half), the game gradually crept out of their reach in the latter stages. UFV will play a rematch with the Saskatchewan Huskies Sunday for the bronze medal, while the Lancers will take on the Saint Mary’s Huskies with the tournament trophy, the “Bronze Baby” on the line.

In Friday’s quarter-final, Windsor outscored the Laurier Golden Hawks 29-13 in the first quarter, and they threatened a similar run in the first frame against UFV. The Lancers execute an incredibly effective press focused around the pocket-picking talents of fifth-year guard Miah-Marie Langlois, and they used it to force 19 turnovers in the first half alone.  Cascades point-guard Aieisha Luyken scored UFV’s first four points and would normally have been the key figure on the Cascades press break, but two quick fouls forced her to take her seat. In Luyken’s absence, and with Windsor closing in on a double-digit lead, UFV needed someone else to step forward. Ultimately, the player that kept the Cascades alive in the first quarter (and indeed led the team throughout the game) was Nicole Wierks, who drove through bruising traffic several times to accumulate a made field goal and a 4-4 record from the foul line. With Wierks’s six-point contribution, the Cascades ended the quarter down only 18-10.

The second quarter belonged to UFV. The Cascades outscored the Lancers 15-6, outrebounded them 12-7, and went 6-11 from the floor (Windsor went 2-16). Kayli Sartori showed her speed with two fast break buckets, and Nataliia Gavryliuk hit the lone three of the quarter to keep the attack rolling. For the first time in the tournament the Lancers actually looked vulnerable, even calling a time-out after UFV went up 24-20 with 4:40 left in the quarter. Unfortunately this was the zenith of the Cascades’ effort, the climax of their narrative, and the highlight of their game. In the third quarter Windsor administered another dose of its lethal press, and Lancer shots began once again to fall.

The Cascades were outscored 14-5 in the third, and then 27-15 in the fourth. Several UFV players showed moments of true heroics, scoring baskets, grabbing rebounds, dribbling through the press to make half-court, but no one seemed able to pull the Cascades back into the game. After forty minutes, UFV had surrendered 31 turnovers and 23 offensive rebounds, and consequently were outshot by the Lancers 21-77 to 15-51 on the night. It was a tough game for a team like the Cascades, but they never broke, and indeed they are one of very few teams to have led against the Lancers at halftime. Windsor went 21-1 against CIS opponents and 8-0 against Final Eight opponents this season prior to the nationals tournament.

Nicole Wierks was the hero of the hour for UFV, scoring 17 points and picking up two blocks. Gavryliuk had 8 points and 4 rebounds, while Sarah Wierks contributed 3 points and 11 rebounds. The Lancers were led by Langlois with 20 points and Jessica Clemencon with 18.

“What happened in the second half?” said Cascades coach Al Tuchscherer, “We were playing an outstanding team. Windsor happened. They can beat you in a number of different ways and I thought we made a few pretty good adjustments throughout the game that neutralized some of their weapons, but those weapons came alive as the game went on. They’re good, they’re an outstanding team.”

The Cascades will play in the bronze medal final against the Saskatchewan Huskies tomorrow at 2 pm (PST). The game will be streamed online at www.CIS-SIC.tv

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