Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – A flame-throwing first-half performance powered the University of the Fraser Valley women's basketball team to a 62-50 victory over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on opening night of the Canada West regular season.
Taylor Claggett ignited the offensive pyrotechnics – the fourth-year forward from Mission, B.C. racked up 15 first-half points on flawless 7-for-7 shooting as the Cascades led 45-23 at the break, and she went on to finish with a game-high 21. As a team, UFV shot a scorching 56.3 per cent from the field over the first two quarters.
The WolfPack tightened things up in the second half, limiting UFV to just 17 points over the final 20 minutes of play. But the deficit was just too much to overcome, and the Cascades maintained a double-digit advantage throughout.
The Cascades (1-0) and WolfPack (0-1) renew hostilities on Saturday, tipping off at 5 p.m. at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.
"It was a really good start for us," UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said, reflecting on his team's energetic, confident showing in the first half. "It's really how we want to play – we wanted to up the pace a little bit, and we really moved the ball well and created some stuff off of our defence. If we can play like that moving forward, I'd be really happy."
Indeed, the ball was whizzing around in the early going for the Cascades – they raced out to a 23-16 lead at the end of the first quarter, and outscored the WolfPack 22-7 in the second to stretch the lead beyond the 20-point threshold. More often than not it was Claggett knocking down shots for the Cascades, showcasing a confident jumper from the perimeter.
"Taylor works as hard every game as anybody, and we know she's a pretty crafty player," Tuchscherer said. "She's in her fourth year now, so she's going to be a load for anybody to defend. I think she's gained some confidence in her perimeter game, and it's going to be tough for teams if she continues to knock down the perimeter stuff."
The WolfPack pushed back after the break with Michelle Bos leading the charge. She finished with a double-double (15 points, 10 boards). Leilani Carney notched nine points for the visitors, and Emily Vilac and Jordon Haggerty had eight apiece.
The Cascades benefitted from a strong performance from their third-year starting backcourt of Victoria Jacobse and Kate Head. Both players stuffed the stat sheet – Jacobse with 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and a block, and Head with five points, seven boards and four assists. Amanda Thompson also excelled for the Cascades, counting a pair of triples among her nine points.
Tuchscherer noted his team needs to do a tidier job of finishing.
"Teams aren't going to stop playing just because we've got a big lead," he said. "We've got to learn to finish games and play with intelligence, and we didn't, especially in that fourth quarter. We were giving up easy buckets, and fouling at inappropriate times. So they're lessons we need to learn, unfortunately. But I'd rather learn those lessons with a W than a loss."
TRU head coach Scott Reeves said his squad will look to build on their second-half surge as they approach Saturday's rematch.
"They came out hot on opening night, which is expected, I think," Reeves said. "To shoot 63 and 50 per cent (in the first and second quarters), you're probably going to be down. We were still getting offensive rebounds and doing a good job there, and we got more shots than they did, but shooting percentage was everything. They came back to earth a little bit in the second half, but by then, the game was out of reach."