Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – For the second straight evening, the third quarter proved pivotal as the Alberta Pandas topped the UFV Cascades.
In Canada West women's basketball action at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre on Saturday, the Pandas outscored the Cascades 19-8 in the third quarter, thus expanding a 37-31 halftime lead into double digits on their way to a 69-56 victory.
Saturday's result, coming on the heels of a 69-61 Alberta triumph on Friday, gave the visitors a weekend sweep. The Pandas improved to 4-2, while the Cascades are 2-4.
"I thought we defended pretty tough, to be honest," Alberta head coach Scott Edwards said, reflecting on his team's third-quarter surge. "Obviously the Cascades got a bit cold, but I thought we did a pretty good job defensively to potentially force some of that. Our kids were aggressive trying to get to the rim, and that was helpful today, too, by the amount of free throws we shot. The game slowed down, and we were able to get to the line and knock some down."
After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Pandas pushed the lead to 28-18 early in the second following a Vanessa Wild triple. The Cascades, though, mustered an 8-0 surge in response, highlighted by a Kate Head three-ball, to cut the deficit to 32-28.
UFV endured a scoring drought of four-plus minutes to open the third quarter, and they shot just 13.3 per cent (2-for-15) in the frame as the Pandas pulled away.
Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer wasn't thrilled with the officiating during that decisive stretch, noting that the Pandas went to the line 16 times in the third quarter. It was part of an eye-popping 42 free throw attempts on the night for the visitors, and they made 25 of them.
"Our entire starting lineup was in foul trouble," Tuchscherer noted. "It was hard to combat that.
"We had some different combinations on the floor (in the third quarter), and Alberta was coming at us pretty hard, for sure. I thought they really controlled the tempo of the game tonight. We were a little bit off-balance that way, and they were coming at us. They deserved to pull away a little bit in the third."
Emma Kary registered 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Pandas, both game-high totals, and Megan Tywoniuk (12 points) and Mackenzie Cook (11) also scored in double figures.
Katelyn Mallette paced the Cascades with 13 points and seven boards, and Taylor Claggett and Victoria Jacobse had 12 points apiece.
"I'm proud of the girls – they're getting some great experience now," Tuchscherer said. "It doesn't feel like good experience, but we're getting a lot of young kids in and playing really significant minutes. Nobody's giving up out there – they're playing right to the end. Those are things that are going to serve us well down the road."
The Cascades are on the road next weekend to face the MacEwan Griffins, while the Pandas host the Lethbridge Pronghorns.