Vikes earn spot in quarter-finals with dominant win over Cascades


VICTORIA – The UVic Vikes women’s basketball team dominated from start to finish as they cruised past the Fraser Valley Cascades by a score 91-62 in Canada West playoff action inside the CARSA Performance Gym on Feb. 9.

The Vikes were on fire all game long, hitting 55 per cent of their shots as a team, with ten different players putting their name on the score sheet.

“UVic came out with a lot of energy tonight and were really motivated,” said Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer. “We knew they were going to execute and their ball screen offence was first-rate, everything we tried to do they picked apart. They dictated the pace of the game and the better team won.”

Consistency on both ends of the court was key in the victory, as the Vikes limited Fraser Valley to 15 points or less in three of the four quarters of action, allowing the visitors to hit just 39 per cent of their shots.

“When we are good offensively is when the ball is moving and we are tough to defend because we have five people at any time that can score. We shot the ball really well tonight and that came from our ball movement,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair. “I’m most proud of our defence tonight because that’s something that hasn’t always been a strength of ours, that’s hopefully something we can build on moving into next weekend.”

The win sends the Vikes onto the Canada West quarter-finals, where they, as the fifth-seed, will travel to Calgary to take on the fourth-seeded Calgary Dinos in a best-of-three series scheduled for Feb. 16-18. The victory also extended the Vikes current winning streak to 13 games, with their last defeat coming all the way back on Nov. 18. For the Cascades, the loss brings their 2017-18 season to an end. A season in which a youthful squad made big strides late in the year to qualify for the playoffs.

The Vikes were once again led by their veteran back-court of Amira Giannattasio and Kristy Gallagher.

Giannattaso was lights out, hitting 12 of her 21 shots in the game, the fourth-year guard finished with 33 points, while also pulling down ten rebounds. Gallagher did most of her work in the second half, scoring 19 points and adding eight rebounds in the game. Rounding out the scoring was Katie Langdon who scored all 14 of her points in the first half, while also playing a key role defensively in the paint.

“She is special,” said Sinclair of Giannattasio. “When you have to defend our other guards and not just zero in on her, it’s tough because as soon as you start to guard her tighter, Kristy or Calli McMillan can find a lane. She is absolutely a special player that has one focus and that is getting the team to win.”

Shayna Littman was a force down low for the Cascades. The fifth-year forward made sure to end her Canada West career with a bang, scoring 18 points and adding 10 rebounds for the double-double.

“Shayna has been in our program for six years, with a redshirt year, and she’s been a warrior for us throughout her career,” said Tuchscherer. “She never gave up and I’m proud of her for that.”

Taylor Claggett and Sara Simovic joined Littman in double-figures, ending their seasons with 15 and ten points respectively.

With the Vikes leading 39-22 early in the second quarter, the game looked to be well on it’s way to spoken for, before the Cascades rallied with their most impressive stretch of play on the night. Fraser Valley went on a 12-0 run to cut the lead to just five points, but that was as close as they could get on the night.

“They made a little run in the second quarter and are a tough, veteran team,” said Sinclair. “We knew they weren’t going to back down at any point and we re-asserted that at halftime. They are very dominant with Claggett and Littman inside, but we had a bunch of our girls do a really nice job of rebounding and making everything tough for them.”

The Vikes outscored the Cascades 23-14 in the third quarter and were able to easily ride out the fourth and final frame for the 29-point victory.

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