T-Birds nip Cascades in overtime


The UBC Thunderbirds staged a furious rally to edge the University of the Fraser Valley 70-64 in overtime on Saturday.

In exhibition action at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre, the Cascades held a five-point lead with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but the T-Birds battled back and tied the score 58-58 on Diana Lee’s banked-in three-pointer with 23.5 seconds remaining.

After the Cascades came up empty on their last possession of regulation, the T-Birds outscored UFV 12-6 in the extra frame.

UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer was heartened by the strides his team made in defeat. They held the T-Birds to 34.7 per cent shooting from the floor, and out-rebounded them 43-36.

“A lot of real positives here,” Tuchscherer summarized. “I thought we dictated the pace of the game for a long time, and defensively I thought we were super-solid in making them take some tough shots. Even down the stretch, I thought we executed at both ends of the floor.”

In overtime, the T-Birds scored the first four points, but the Cascades authored a quick 6-0 run to reclaim the lead. Sarah Wierks was fouled while making a layup, then grabbed the rebound off her own missed foul shot and put it back in off the glass. Then Nataliia Gavryliuk hit a driving layup to put UFV up 64-62.

But those were the last points the Cascades would score – UBC’s Kris Young responded with a three-pointer, and her backcourt mate Lee got a steal on UFV’s next possession and finished the sequence with an old-fashioned three-point play.

Young, the 2013 Canada West player of the year, finished with a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, while Harleen Sidhu notched 17 points and Lee scored 15.

Cascades third-year forward Katie Brink turned in a gritty, physical effort, scoring a team-high 16 points and hauling down eight rebounds. Wierks and Celeste Dyck registered 14 points apiece, while Gavryliuk scored 13.

“We’ve been harping on being tougher and grittier – all week that’s been a theme for us,” Tuchscherer said. “Katie’s definitely a leader in that way – she’s a hardnosed piece of work, and that’s how we need her to play. She’s got a lot of toughness to her game, and it’s good to see her have a little bit of success out there tonight.”

The Cascades are three weeks away from their Canada West regular season opener, Nov. 7-8 at the UBC Okanagan Heat.