The Canada-West final four starts tonight in Saskatchewan as the Huskies host the tournament for the second straight year at Physical Activity Center. The first semifinal will see the host team, Huskies play 4th seed, University of Alberta Pandas. The second semifinal will feature second seed, Regina Cougars play 3rd seed, Winnipeg Wesmen. The Huskies are looking to win their second-straight Canada-West crown and head back to nationals to defend their Bronze Baby title.
CW Final Four Preview–
Saskatchewan Huskies vs. Alberta Pandas:
The two teams met during the regular season in the first weekend of February in Saskatchewan where they split the series. The Pandas took game one, winning 72-50 and Huskies won game two, 72-62. The Huskies during the CW regular season had a record of 15-5. The Huskies made it to the final four after battling through some adversity against Frasier Valley Cascades in the quarterfinals. The series against Cascades went the maximum with three games, the Huskies won game three, 78-69. The Pandas finished the regular season with a 17-3 record. The Pandas made it to the final four after they swept UBC Thunderbirds in the quarterfinals last weekend. Both teams were at the final four last year.
The Pandas averaged 67.0 points a game and scored 1,339 points this season. They were second in Canada-West in FG Pct- 41.3. The team on offence is led by fifth-year guard, Maddie Rogers. Rodgers earlier in the week was named a CW first team All-Star after averaging 15.5 points a game and scoring 310 points in 20 games this season. She also had 75 assists which was third in Canada-West. She made 109-253 of her field goals this season. Rodgers is currently averaging 13.5 points a game during the playoffs and has scored 27 points in the two games. Rodgers scored 40 points against Huskies in the two games. Another important member of this Pandas team is first-year guard, Emma Kary. Kary was named to CW All-Rookie team. Kary averaged 7.5 points a game and scored 149 points during the regular season. Kary scored 18 points in the two games against the Huskies during the regular season.
The Huskies averaged 70.3 points a game and scored 1,405 points during the regular season. The team had FG Pct- 39.1. The Huskies have been fantastic from downtown this season as they were third in conference for threes made per a game with 6.5 and second in 3pt Pct-33.5. Lastly, they average 13.5 offensive rebounds per a game which is fifth in CW. The Huskies offence goes through second-year guard, Sabine Dukate. Dukate hails from Latvia and this season, she was named a Canada-West first team All-star for incredible season. Dukate averaged 16.2 PPG and scored 292 points in the regular season. She made 111-279 of her shots this season (8th in CW). Dukate led the team in threes as she made 40-108. She also had 3PT Pct- 37.0. Dukate is second in Canada-West scoring during the playoffs averaging 20.3 points a game and has scored 61 points in three games. She is first in three made during the playoffs with 12. In the two games against the Pandas during the regular season, Dukate scored 27 points. The Huskies lost many of its key veterans from last year’s championship team, one of the fresh faces on this team is rookie guard, Libby Epoch. Epoch was named to CW all-rookie team a few days ago. She averaged 8.1 points a game and scored 162 points in 20 games this season. She was fourth in Canada-West in assists with 74. In the playoffs, she’s averaging 5.0 points a game and has scored 15 points. In the two games against Pandas, she scored five points.
Alberta held its opponents to 58.6 points a game during the regular season, second in Canada-West. They also held its opponents to 35.7 % shooting (4th in CW). They averaged 18.3 turnovers per a game (5th in CW). The Pandas averaged 8.2 steals per a game and 2.9 blocks per a game. Rodgers led the team in steals with 43 and fourth-year forward, Elle Hendershot led the team in blocks with 18. Hendershot also had 104 defensive rebounds. In the two games against the Huskies, Pandas had 42 turnovers which led to 48 points scored by the Huskies.
The Huskies allowed 59.3 points a game in the regular season, third in the conference. Opposing teams shot 37.4 % against them. They held its opponents to a 3pt percentage- 28.5 % (5th in CW). They averaged 3.4 blocks per a game and 7.8 steals per a game. Lastly, they averaged 16.2 turnovers per a game. Third-year forward, Vera Crooks led the team in block shots with 19. Dukate led the team in steals with 30. Fourth-year forward, Megan Lindquist led the team in defensive rebounds with 87. The Huskies had 39 turnovers against the Pandas in their two meetings during the regular season. The Pandas scored 47 points off their 39 turnovers.
This game will depend on defense as these are two top defensive teams in the conference this year. For both teams to win, they will need to get more scoring from secondary sources as Rodgers and Dukate cannot always carry the load.
Regina Cougars vs. Winnipeg Wesmen:
The two schools met in the first weekend of February where they split the series. The Cougars took game one winning 83-67 and Huskies won game two, 62-58. The Cougars finished the regular season with a record of 17-3 and Wesmen had a record of 18-2. The Cougars made it to the final four after sweeping TWU Spartans last weekend. The Wesmen made it to the final four after beating Victoria Vikes in three games last weekend. This is first final four appearance for the Wesmen since 2006-2007 season while the Cougars made it to the final four last year and lost in Canada-West championship game to Huskies.
The Cougars led the conference in points per a game with 75.1 and scored 1,502 points this season. They had FG Pct- 38.9 % which was seventh in CW. They averaged 26.3 field goals made (2nd in CW). They led the conference in offensive rebounds averaging 19.1 per a game. The Cougars were excellent shooters from three-point land as they led the CW in threes made per a game with 6.9. The Cougars for many years have been known to have a balance attack when it comes to scoring however, this year that changed a bit with loss of their All-Canadian forward, Charlotte Kot. The team heavily depended on fifth-year guard, Katie Polischuk. Polischuk was named a first team all-star this season. She averaged 15.7 points a game and scored 313 points this season. She was second in the conference for threes made with 56-154. Lastly, she made 109-265 of her shots this year. In the playoffs, she is currently averaging 18.0 points a game and has scored 36 points in the two games. Polischuk in the two games against the Wesmen scored 21 points. The Cougars on offence also have this year’s Canada-West rookie of the year, Kyanna Giles. She also was named a third-team all-star as well. Giles averaged 12.9 points a game and scored 258 points. Giles during the playoffs is averaging 12.5 points a game and has scored 25 points. Giles was fantastic against the Wesmen during the regular season as she scored 36 points and almost had back to back double-doubles. Third-year forward, Christina McCusker had 54 offensive rebounds which led the team.
The Wesmen were second in Canada-West in scoring as they averaged 74.1 points a game and scored 1,481 points. They were first in shots made per a game averaging 28.2 and were third in FG Pct- 40.8. The Wesmen on offence are led by Canada- West MVP, Antoinette Miller. Miller in her first season since arriving from Phoenix, Arizona put on a show during the regular season. She led the conference in scoring averaging 18.7 points a game and scored 373 points. She also led the conference in shooting as she made 140-275 of her field goals. She was fourth in FG Pct – 50.9 %. Miller has not cold down in the playoffs as she currently leads in scoring averaging 24.7 points a game and scoring 74 points. She’s shooting 56.6 % which is second and is third in field goals made with 30. Miller in all three games during the playoffs has recorded a double-double and is coming off a 31- point performance. Miller in the two games against the Cougars during the regular season was un-touchable as she scored 49 points. The Wesmen also have fifth-year guard, Megan Noonan who was named a third-team all-star this season. Noonan averaged 14.0 points a game and scored 252 points during the regular season. She was fifth in three-point shooting as she made 44-133 of her threes. Lastly, she had 56 assists. Noonan during the playoffs is averaging 12.0 points a game and has scored 36 points. Noonan scored nine points against the Cougars during the regular season. The Wesmen during the playoffs are getting a great performance from second-year forward, Faith Hezekiah. Hezekiah is third in Canada-West scoring during the playoffs averaging 19.0 points a game and has scored 57 points.
The Cougars were fantastic on defense this season leading the conference in several categories: least amount of points given up (52.8 points a game), FG percentage (30.3 %) and lastly, 3PT percentage (25.2). They averaged 10.0 steals per a game and 4.1 blocks per a game. They also were first in defensive rebounds averaging 31.1 rebounds per a game. Lastly, they averaged 16.8 turnovers per a game. McCusker led the team in block shots with 32 (2nd in Canada-West). Giles led the team in defensive rebounds and steals as she had 94 defensive rebounds and 42 steals.
The Cougars had 27 turnovers in their two games against Wesmen which led to Wesmen scoring 39 points off of those turnovers.
The Wesmen held its opponents to 60.7 points per a game (4th in CW). The Wesmen’s opponents shot 37.6 % against them and opponents shot 32% from downtown against them. The Wesmen led the conference in steals per a game with 12.2. They averaged 1.9 blocks per a game. They averaged 22.8 defensive rebounds a game. Lastly, the Wesmen averaged 14.0 turnovers per a game which led the conference. Miller along with winning MVP also took home defensive player of the year honors. She had 72 steals and 118 defensive rebounds this year. Fourth-year post, Skylar Boulanger led the team in blocked shots with 8. The Wesmen had 21 turnovers in the two games against the Cougars and their turnovers led to 24 points scored by the Cougars.
It should be a high-scoring game affair between the two most explosive offenses in the conference. For the Cougars to win this game, they will need to find an answer to stopping the dominant Canada-West MVP, Miller. For the Wesmen to win, they would need to outscore the Cougars.