SASKATOON – For the sixth year in a row the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's basketball team has earned the right to battle for the conference championship after they held off a hard-charging Lethbridge Pronghorns squad by a score of 78-72 to sweep their semifinal series in Saskatoon.
With the win the Huskies assured that there will be a rematch of last year's championship game, as they will host the Regina Cougars on Ron & Jane Graham Court on Friday, March 1 at 7 p.m. in what will be yet another chapter in the two rivals long history.
Letbhridge meanwhile, sees their historic season come to an end. The Pronghorns won three-straight playoff games and advanced to semifinals for the first time since 1995 before running into the Huskies.
Libby Epoch and Summer Masikewich paced the Huskies, scoring 20 points apiece. Epoch went four-of-five from beyond the arc while Masikewich added 14 rebounds for her second double-double of the series. Megan Ahlstrom rounded out the scoring with 15 points.
Asnate Fomina was heroic in defeat for the Pronghorns. The fourth-year guard was five-of-six from downtown and went 12-of-17 from the field to score a game-high 33 points. Kacie Bosch added 13 points and finished just one rebound shy of a double-double.
A hot-shooting first half that saw Saskatchewan hit nearly 50 per cent of their shots from distance as a team gave them a 39-22 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The Pronghorns refused to go away however and Fomina catching fire along with some timely defensive stops allowed Lethbridge to cut the lead to nine points entering the fourth and final quarter.
After the Huskies started strong in the fourth the lead was cut back down to seven with just over five minutes left in the game thanks to a three-pointer from Fomina.
Saskatchewan, a veteran team with lots of experience in tight games, refused to be rattled and a jumper from Dukate forced a Pronghorns timeout with three minutes left to play with the Huskies up by 14.
With their season on the line, the Pronghorns played desperate on both ends of the court and after a sustained run from the visitors Katie Keith knocked down a shot to bring the margin back down just two points with 22 seconds left to play.
The Huskies were able to handle the pressure however and after a pair of free throws from Epoch, the defence stepped up to force two-straight turnovers and seal the victory at 78-72.