Aneesa Heatherington/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds overpowered the Fraser Valley Cascades en route to a 74-57 victory at War Memorial Gymnasium in their first non-conference game of the 2018-19 season.
"It was nice to play at home," said UBC head coach Deb Huband. "We're much improved, I think the returning players worked really hard in the offseason and we're on the right track with how we want to play. I think our newcomers are adding a lot of depth and versatility so I'm really excited about the possibilities and where we are right now."
Third-year forward Keylyn Filewich led the 'Birds with 16 rebounds and added 11 points, Madison Legault went 5 for 6 from the field to earn a team-high 12 points, and Maddison Penn contributed a solid 11 points with four boards.
Second-year guard Kate Johnson made her presence felt in her first game against a university team on home court after transferring from the UBC Okanagan Heat.
"She's just coming off an ankle sprain, so she's not quite in her finest form...but even with that she's a difference maker as far as being a dynamic, explosive player that helps us offensively and defensively," said Huband.
Johnson finished with six points, three rebounds and a pair of assists in the victory.
Rookie guard Abby Zawada and fourth-year forward Taylor Claggett each put up 12 points for the Cascades, while Claggett grabbed 13 boards and racked up six assists in the loss.
UBC jumped out to an early 17-3 lead and took advantage of 13 UFV turnovers to hold a 33-19 lead at the half.
Three-point baskets on consecutive possessions early in the third quarter by Zawada and Victoria Jacobse allowed the Cascades to close the gap to 37-25. Despite eight shots from long range in the second half, the visitors couldn't cut their deficit to single digits.
The T-Birds continued to assert their strength inside – out-rebounding the Cascades 46-36 and recording a 36-20 advantage in points in the paint.
UBC shot 38.2 per cent (26-68) from the field on Thursday night, while UFV had a slightly higher rate of success at 39.6 per cent (21-53).
Following the comfortable win, Huband is looking for even more improvement as the regular season nears.
"We have a few players that are still coming back from injury or aren't in the lineup yet, so we're trying to get a better look at some of our pieces and how things are working for us...what we might want to add or adjust before the season starts at the end of October."
The Thunderbirds will play their second preseason tilt at War Memorial Gym on October 13 at 5 p.m. PT against Oregon's Lewis & Clark College. The Cascades will travel to Nanaimo next weekend for games Friday and Saturday at Vancouver Island.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds