REGINA – Leading for much of the game, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team couldn’t seal the deal in an 82-76 loss to the Regina Cougars at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport in Regina, SK.

It looked like No. 2-ranked Saskatchewan might run away with it after the Huskies built up a lead that reached as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but the Cougars got right back into it with a 12-1 run and then scored the first eight points of the fourth to take their first lead since the first quarter. The two teams traded leads five times in the final quarter, but the Cougars got three-pointers on back-to-back possessions from Kyia Giles and Michaela Kleisinger to go up by nine with just 46 seconds to go.

Carolina Goncalves was brilliant in the second half for the Cougars, scoring 17 of her game-high 23 points in the third and fourth quarters.

Both teams move to 16-3 with the win. The Cougars lock up a top-four seed with the victory and are now assured of a first-round bye and the right to host a quarterfinal series two weekends from now. Saskatchewan can still finish ahead of Calgary for the top seed in the Canada West postseason, but will likely need a win over Regina in the weekend finale on Saturday night.

Besides the 23-point effort from Goncalves, Regina also got another double-double from Kyanna Giles. Giles notched 20 points and 10 rebounds to collect her seventh double-double of the Canada West schedule, while Kleisinger poured in a season-high 16 points. Macaela Crone added eight points and seven rebounds on a night where 150 tickets were provided to Moose Jaw residents as part of the Viterra In Your Community program.

For Saskatchewan, Summer Masikewich had a team-high 22 points which included her first triple of the campaign in the game’s dying seconds. Sabine Dukate added 17 points, while Libby Epoch scored 12 points and led all players with six assists.

It was Dukate’s shooting that helped Saskatchewan open up the early lead in the first half. The Huskies led 15-12 after one, but went on a 10-0 run in the second to open up a double-digit lead. Saskatchewan outscored Regina by a 26-16 margin in the second and Dukate hit three of her five triples in that quarter, giving the visitors a 41-28 advantage at the break. It was another Dukate three that gave Saskatchewan its first 16-point lead in the third, and the Huskies’ perimeter shooting also briefly gave them some breathing room in the fourth after the big 8-0 run by the Cougars to open the quarter. Megan Ahlstrom and Libby Epoch both banked in three-pointers in the span of just over a minute, but the Cougars scored 20 of the next 26 points to pull away.