Andy Watson / Photos by Erich Eichhorn (www.allsportmedia.ca)
VICTORIA – Another effective display of three-point shooting and strong team defence assisted the Fraser Valley Cascades, as they improved to 9-3 on the season with a 61-49 win over the UVic Vikes at Ken & Kathy Shields Court at McKinnon Gymnasium on Saturday Jan. 14.
With the loss, the Vikes fall to 5-7 and have now lost five of their past six games.
Next weekend, UVic travels east to play the Winnipeg Wesmen (7-5) on Friday Jan. 20 and Manitoba Bisons (3-9) on Saturday Jan. 21 – both games are 4 p.m. PST starts. It will be a crucial road trip for UVic which slipped out of a playoff position in the Canada West’s Pacific Division behind the Cascades, UBC and Trinity Western and remained even with Thompson Rivers for fourth place. The top three teams in the division get an automatic playoff spot, while the fourth-place Pacific team can earn a wildcard to the playoffs.
UVic also plays at UBC-Okanagan in Kelowna, B.C., on Feb. 3 and 4, and then at UBC on Feb. 10 before returning home for the regular season finale on Feb. 17 on Shoot For The Cure night against the rival Thunderbirds (w-6 p.m., m-8 p.m.).
On Saturday, Debbie Yeboah of Winnipeg led UVic with a game-high 17 points adding eight rebounds, while Chelsea McMullen of Prince George was effective once again with 10 points and seven boards. Fraser Valley had a 17-point night from fifth-year forward Tessa Klassen of Winnipeg who scored 15 of her points on three-pointers. In all, the Cascades made 12 three-pointer on the night, while UVic had just one on 16 attempts.
Vikes Sarah Semeniuk tips off against her counterpart Sarah Wierks of the Cascades Saturday night at Mackinnon Gym
#15 Chelsea McMullen shoots a contested jumper. McMullen wold finish with 10 pts seven reboundsand 3 assists on the night.
The Vikes struggled early but recovered with a refocussed defensive effort and great heart on loose ball battles to keep the game close until the fourth quarter.
The Cascades opened up on a 5-0 run and led 11-3 four minutes in but UVic continued to claw back when Fraser Valley stretched their lead. They scored 21 of their first 25 points on three-point shots and led 25-16 midway through the second quarter.
Despite all the threes, though, the Cascades ran out of outside shooting luck thanks to increased defensive pressure in transition and in a two-three zone from the Vikes, allowing UVIc to tie the game at 25 in a low-scoring opening half.
In the third quarter, a layup from Jessica Renfrew of Victoria gave UVic its first lead at 27-25, followed by a big defensive block from Fruitvale, B.C., native Sarah Semeniuk, allowing a 6-0 Vikes run.
But midway through the third, Fraser Valley tied it at 31 and then a Klassen three-pointer – the team’s ninth of the game – made it 34-31 for Fraser Valley. The Cascades hit nine three-pointers on of their first 12 made field goals on 40 attempts but struggled inside until late in the game.
#4 Jessica Renfrew shoots the jumper while double teamed be Cascade defenders
Trailing, the Vikes put together another run led by four straight points from fourth-year guard Yeboah who drained two shots from the line and then hit a jumper at the end of the quarter to cut the lead to 38-35.
However, once again, Fraser Valley went up 40-35 after a scoreless opening 90 seconds and led throughout. Yeboah drained UVic’s first three of the game to make it 46-42 Cascades with 5:20 left, but the first-place team in the Pacific Division went on a 15-7 run to close out the game and hold on for the win.
Klassen netted her fifth three-pointer of the game, making the score 54-46 for Fraser Valley with 3:30 left to take the momentum for good. Then the Cascades made a stop and scored on the next possession extending the lead to 10 which was followed by a three that made it a 13-point UFV cushion with just over two minutes remaining.