Provincial rivalry renewed-PREVIEW

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Provincial foes will battle for a banner on the conference’s biggest stage as the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team will make their sixth-consecutive Canada West Championship appearance when they take on the Regina Cougars in the conference title game on Friday night at the PAC.

Saskatchewan punched their ticket to another U SPORTS Final 8 with their sweep over the Lethbridge Pronghorns this past weekend. The Huskies, who have had the luxury of staying in Saskatoon for the entirety of their post-season run, have won the last two Canada West title games that have taken place on home court.

Regina will take the floor Friday night in the midst of a twelve-game winning streak, with their last loss coming back on Saturday, Jan. 5 in Victoria against the Vikes. The Cougars took care of business on the road this past weekend, as they marched into Calgary and swept the Dinos, who were at the time ranked as the No. 6 team in the nation, with 72-58 and 82-65 victories. Regina will be looking for their second consecutive Canada West Championship and fourth conference title in program history.

The Cougars swept the season series with the Huskies in the final week of the regular season, with back-to-back victories. Kyanna Giles helped lead the way for Regina, as the third-year guard posted 20-point and 19-point performances. Libby Epoch had a season-high 23 points for Saskatchewan on Saturday despite her team losing by 14 points, as the Moose Jaw, SK native shot 7-15 from the field.

5 Things

1: Regina and Saskatchewan have both qualified for the 2019 U SPORTS Final 8, which will be held at Ryerson University in Toronto from March 7 – 10.

2: This is the fourth year in a row that the Cougars and Huskies have met in the Canada West Championship.

3: Regina won the conference title game on home court last season, before the Huskies defeated the Cougars 74-71 to advance to the national championship game.

4: Canada West first-team all-star Kyanna Giles will be the focal point of Saskatchewan’s defence come Friday night. Giles, who struggled in game one of the semifinal series against the Calgary Dinos with three points on 1-10 shooting, bounced back with a 27-point explosion to help the Cougars reach their fourth consecutive conference championship game.

5: Something is bound to give as neither the Huskies or Cougars have dropped a playoff game in this year’s edition of the Canada West postseason, with each team recording sweeps in their respective quarter-final and semifinal series.

By the Numbers

5 – Saskatchewan and Regina are each slotted within the top five of the U SPORTS national rankings.

20 – Libby Epoch and Summer Masikewich each chipped in 20 points on Friday night to help the Huskies sweep the Pronghorns.

14-0 – The Huskies have yet to lose a game at the PAC this season.

31-5 – Regina and Saskatchewan dominated the Canada West regular season, as they ended up finishing off with a combined 31-5 record, excluding the two games between the teams this season.

Scouting the Cougars

Head Coach Dave Taylor has led the Cougars to the national championships in 10 of his 13 seasons at the helm of the program.

Regina was second in the Canada West with 79.7 points per game this season, trailing only Saskatchewan in that category. The Cougars were third in the conference with 7.7 three-pointers made per game.

Kyanna Giles, who was a second-team All-Canadian last season, has led the way for Regina offensively this season. Giles averaged nearly a double-double in 2018-19, racking up 18.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

Carolina Gonclaves and Macaela Crone were the other Cougars who averaged double figures during the regular season. The pair of second-year players provide depth scoring for the defending conference champions. Crone is in her first year with the program after electing to go south to Louisiana Tech, before the Moose Jaw, SK native decided to return closer to home to enroll at the University of Regina after sitting out last season.

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