Cameron Doherty, Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON – The offence wasn't always firing at its usual impressive rate but in the end the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's basketball team did more than enough to defeat the Lethbridge Pronghorns by a score of 76-57 on January 5 on Ron & Jane Graham Centre Court.
"We didn't have the same offensive output and things didn't seem to flow as well as they did last night and that's certainly credit to Lethbridge too, they did some things differently but obviously we are still happy with the result," said Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis.
Sabine Dukate once again led the Huskies with a game-high 14 points, Summer Masikewich added 12 points and seven rebounds while Megan Ahlstrom had a strong game, finishing with 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Amy Mazutinec was the catalyst for Lethbridge's offence with 11 points and three assists, she was closely followed by Danielle Fritzke who added 10 points, three rebounds and three assists.
"I feel like this was a better effort for us defensively," said Pronghorns head coach Dave Waknuk. "Obviously when you play a team like Saskatchewan with the fire power they have, it is going to be tough to defend but I was happier that we were able to challenge some shots and make things a little tougher. This is a very talented Saskatchewan team and you know when you play them that it is going to be a test defensively."
For the second night in a row Saskatchewan held a large advantage on the boards, grabbing 41 to Lethbridge's 23 and while their offence didn't always look like its best, the Huskies still put down 41.2 per cent of their shot attempts while holding Lethbridge to 35.2 per cent.
The win moves Saskatchewan to 12-2 on the season and increases their current winning streak to eight games, good enough to keep them on top of the Canada West conference as the schedule moves well past the halfway point.
"We were fortunate that even though we didn't play to our potential we were still able to come out with the win, so I'm happy with that and also that we were able to play everyone tonight and give them some experience that will be much needed down the stretch," said Thomaidis.
For Lethbridge they move to 5-7 and are aiming for more consistent play in the second half as they begin their push for the playoffs.
"For us the key moving forward is consistency, we have moments where we really like what we do but we have to put together games and this is the time of the season where prolonged effort makes a big difference," said Waknuk.
In stark contrast to last night where both teams came out of the gates with a hot hand, it took a little while for either team to find their offensive groove with the Huskies leading by a score of 5-4 five minutes into the game.
Things began to heat up after that for both teams and a trio of three-pointers from Dukate allowed Saskatchewan to jump out to a double-digit lead. Lethbridge was resolute however and six points from Fritzke cut the lead to 21-14 in favour of Saskatchewan after the opening frame.
Both defences continued to limit what are a pair of explosive offences in the second half with both teams hitting on under 38 per cent of their shots in the frame. Mazutinec put up seven of Lethbridge's 12 points in the second, but a scoring-by-committee approach from Saskatchewan allowed the home team to tally 18 points in the quarter and enter the second half with a 13-point advantage.
Saskatchewan's offence had by far their best effort in the third, jumping out to a 52-31 lead on an Ashley De Sousa Martins layup and never looking back en route to the dominant 19-point victory.
In total 11 Huskies played at least ten minutes in the game as they once again were able to roll out a deep team and get contributions from up and down their lineup.
"It always helps when you have a deep lineup, you never know what's going to happen at the end of the year, people will be feeling the grind of the whole season and the more that we can rotate payers through will really help us," said Thomaidis.
The Huskies will be on a bye week next weekend before returning to Canada West action with a trip to Calgary where they will take on the Mount Royal Cougars on January 18 & 19.
Lethbridge meanwhile will return to Alberta as they play a home-and-home set with those very same Cougars, beginning in Calgary on January 10 with the return leg at home on the 12.
All of those games can be watched live on canadawest.tv.