Defence led to offence for the Western Washington University Vikings in an 83-58 exhibition win over the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team on Sunday afternoon in Bellingham.

Western Washington, a perennial powerhouse NCAA Div. 2 program, took advantage of 29 Cascades turnovers – 19 of those on account of steals by the Vikes – and shot a scorching 50.8 per cent from the field. The hosts had five players score in double figures, led by Jenni White, who scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the first half and added eight assists and eight steals.

Nataliia Gavryliuk paced the UFV offence with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, and Kaitlyn McDonald and Sarah Wierks notched 11 points apiece. Wierks added a game-high 11 rebounds.

“You can’t expect to turn the ball over 29 times and give up 41 points off those turnovers and have any success,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer noted. “We’ve been trying to get the girls to push the ball more the last couple weeks, and this might have been a product of that. Our decision-making wasn’t really tight.”

The Cascades hung with the Vikings for most of the first half, and were within 24-21 after a Kaitlyn McDonald three-pointer. But Western Washington took over at that point – they reeled off a 17-3 run and took a 41-26 lead into halftime.

The Cascades battled back to get within six points at 52-46, but the Vikes went on another big run – 20-6 this time – to snuff UFV’s comeback hopes.

“We had stretches of five to eight minutes in the first half and the second half where we just let it slip away,” Tuchscherer said. “You take those away, and we’re right in it. That being said, the game is 40 minutes long, and you’ve got to figure out a way to compete for 40 minutes.”

This weekend, the Cascades travel to Lewiston, Idaho for exhibition games on Friday and Saturday vs. the Lewis-Clark State Warriors, an NAIA squad. They open the Canada West regular season on the road vs. the UBC Okanagan Heat, Nov. 7-8.