By .The UFV Cascades women’s basketball team (17-5) turned it on in the third quarter tonight to beat the TWU Spartans (5-17) by a score of 55-39 at the Envision Athletic Centre. The Cascades clinched first in the Pacific division on Thursday in the first half of the doubleheader, and finish with only one win less on the season than their 2012-2013 record (18-4). The Spartans fall to sixth in the Canada West and will not be involved in next week’s CW playoffs
The Cascades also honoured their graduating seniors tonight, celebrating the careers of five women who have seen the team go from 2-16 in their first year, to 17-5 in their last. UFV’s seniors, in alphabetical order, are: Courtney Bartel, Samantha Kurath, Aieisha Luyken, Alexa McCarthy, and Nicole Wierks.
Tonight’s game had a promising start, but seemed to stagnate in the second quarter. Despite numerous fast break opportunities at both ends of the court, neither team managed to sink even a quarter of their shots in a half that ended with the Cascades up 22-19. After 20 minutes the Cascades were 0-7 from downtown and shooting only 18 percent from the field, while the Spartans were only marginally better at 24 percent from the field. The two teams scored a combined six point in the first five minutes of the second quarter, despite personal heroics from Cascades Nataliia Gavriliuk and Courtney Bartel.
The second half was a completely different story. UFV launched an immediate 16 point rampage of a run, sparked by the first trey of the game (the shooter, Gavryliuk, would have 12 points in the quarter). The Spartans attempted to answer, but simply couldn’t find a catalyst without fifth year star Holly Strom (injured) on the floor. UFV scored 23 points in the third and only 10 in the fourth, but it was enough to send the Cascades into the post-season on a winning note.
Gavriliuk played a beautiful game tonight with 17 points, 8 rebounds, and four assists. Not as impressive on the stat sheet, but with an immense presence on the floor, was Courtney Bartel, whose four points and eight rebounds were a minor part of the stability and veteran skill she brought to the game. Sarah Wierks (12 points and seven rebounds) and her sister Nicole Wierks (nine points and 10 rebounds) helped build the lead in the third quarter before making way for some up-and-coming Cascades in the fourth.
The Spartans were led by Laurissa Weigl with 12 points, and Chantelle Martin with 11. TWU never managed to get their shooters rolling tonight, and finished 0-8 from behind the arc.
“I was really happy tonight to thank our seniors for their five years of service,” said Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer. “I really enjoyed ending the season with a win and wrapping up a second Pacific division regular season title. Everything resets now as we start our preparation for playing the Calgary Dinos in the first round of the Canada West.”
The Cascades will begin their post-season at home next Thursday against the University of Calgary Dinos. Watch online at canadawest.tv