WBB vs TRU Feb13-15-slider2With the playoffs looming, the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team is playing its best ball of the season.

The Cascades notched a signature win on Friday evening at the Envision Athletic Centre, knocking off the CIS No. 10-ranked Thompson Rivers WolfPack 70-57.

It was just the second loss of the Canada West regular season for the WolfPack (17-2), who have already clinched first place in the Explorer Division but were limited to 25.9 per cent shooting from the field on Friday.

The Cascades (12-7), who are locked into the third Explorer playoff slot, have won four straight games and seven of their last eight. They enjoyed a phenomenal shooting performance from Nataliia Gavryliuk and another rebounding milestone from centre Sarah Wierks.

WBB vs TRU Feb13-15-featuredGavryliuk poured in a game-high 21 points in extremely efficient fashion (8-of-11 shooting from the field, 5-for-7 from beyond the arc), while fifth-year centre Wierks notched a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

In the process, Wierks set a new Canada West record for total rebounds in a season with 295. The previous mark of 291 was shared by Jodi Evans (Calgary, 1990-91) and Sarah Crooks (Saskatchewan, 2006-07).

Katie Brink chipped in with 18 points and seven rebounds and Celeste Dyck had seven boards and nine assists for the winners. Taiysa Worsfold paced the ‘Pack with 18 points, while Kassie Colonna scored 12.

The two teams clash again on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the EAC.

“It’s exciting to play a ranked opponent,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “We’ve had some great battles with Thompson Rivers over the year. It doesn’t matter – there’s no standings on the line – but it’s Thompson Rivers and Fraser Valley. We both want to come out and play hard and get a win.

“They’re probably a little more established this year than we are, so to get a win is a good thing for our team.”

The hosts got off to a solid start and led by as many as six points in the first quarter, but the WolfPack battled back to draw even at 15-15 at the end of the frame.

The Cascades held a small lead for most of the second quarter, but reeled off a 9-0 run to close out the half and change the complexion of the game. Wierks kick-started the spurt with six straight points, and Gavryliuk nailed a three-pointer to beat the buzzer to give UFV a 41-28 advantage.

“It’s interesting for me to see if we’re learning along the way, and the last minute of the first half was pretty cool,” Tuchscherer said. “We would have never been able to execute at the end of a quarter like that even a month ago.

“Just the maturity of our team, I think, is positive.”

UFV maintained its momentum in the third quarter and took a 59-43 lead into the fourth, where they had some struggles with turnovers and managed just 11 points. But they kept the lead in double digits the entire way, and Gavryliuk’s fifth and final triple of the night with 1:30 left in regulation snuffed any lingering hope of a WolfPack comeback.

Saturday is Senior Night, and fifth-year graduating players Wierks and Dyck, along with Jasper Moedt and Kadeem Willis of the men’s basketball team, will be honoured in a ceremony between the women’s and the men’s games.