ABBOTSFORD – With 2:26 remaining in the third quarter and the University of Victoria Vikes up 44-40, fifth-year UFV standout Kayli Sartori fouled out of the game.
It should have been the final straw for the Cascades but instead it inspired the squad, as they rallied to put away Victoria in the fourth quarter for a 75.66 victory on Saturday night at the Envision Athletic Centre.
“They just out-competed us,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “They made a push and I felt like we let momentum get away form us and let it affect us. We became deflated when they hit a shot instead of just trying to respond.”
“Especially when you move into this time of the season, those are fun games to be in—when both teams are in it and you need to make plays.”
Sara Simovic and Shayna Litman had 22 and 20 points, respectively, to spearhead the comeback as the Cascades improved to 11-7 and the Vikes dropped to 12-6.
Fifth-year Vike Jenna Bugiardini had another excellent performance for her team, finishing with her second straight double-double on the strength of 19 points and 16 rebounds. But Sinclair knew that Bugiardini wouldn’t be happy with the outcome no matter what.
“You know Jenna she’s going to give you everything she’s got—she battles so hard in every way on was great on the board again tonight,” said Sinclair. “But I don’t think she cares—all she cares about is the win. She’d prefer putting up zero points and have the team win.”
The edge in rebounds, however, was largely limited to the first half. The Cascades managed to use their size to their advantage down the stretch, out-rebounding the Vikes 22-21 in the final half and grabbing 17 rebounds off their own board compared to 10 offensive rebounds for the Vikes.
The loss puts the Vikes in an interesting position heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Victoria will welcome Winnipeg to the CARSA Performance Gym—a team that currently sits first in Canada West with a record of 16-2 and the fourth-best RPI in the conference as of Saturday morning.
In other words, two wins on senior weekend could go a long way in providing the Vikes favourable positioning in the playoffs and a first-week bye. It’s a bitter-sweet situation for Sinclair.
“You win out on [tonight] and the last weekend [and it] just becomes a battle of where you finish in the top four,” she said.
“Now we have to win two just to get there but it’s good that we have that opportunity.”
UVIC: 17-16-16-17: 66
UFV: 9-17-19-30: 75