Abbotsford – The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team hung with the Wisconsin Badgers for much of Wednesday evening’s exhibition tilt, but the NCAA Div. 1 visitors pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 64-50 win.
The host Cascades led 34-32 with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter at the Envision Athletic Centre after a layup by Shayna Litman, but the Badgers responded with a 9-0 run and extended their lead to double digits in the fourth.
Reigning Canada West scoring champ Kayli Sartori paced the Cascades with 14 points to go with six rebounds and four steals, while sophomore forward Taylor Claggett notched a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Litman chipped in with 13 points.
Wisconsin senior forward Avyanna Young led all scorers with 18 points, and Courtney Fredrickson had a double-double of her own with 15 points and 10 boards.
The Cascades are back in action at home against another NCAA Div. 1 foe on Friday. They take on the Florida Atlantic Owls, with tip-off set for 7 p.m. at the Envision Athletic Centre.
“We talked about wanting to establish our competitiveness in our first game here, and I thought the girls really competed hard tonight,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “We battled a much bigger team, and we actually beat them on the boards (50-47), which was a really key stat for us.
“The wheels came off a bit for us in the fourth quarter – we had five, six, maybe seven possessions in a row where we turned the ball over, and they widened the gap which was a little bit unfortunate. But there were some good things, for sure, tonight.”
With two of the Cascades’ more experienced players, guards Sydney Williams and Sara Simovic, unavailable on Wednesday, Tuchscherer’s side was more youthful than they expect to be when the Canada West regular season tips off in November. Six UFV rookies – Victoria Jacobse, Jessica Zawada, Alexis Worrell, Jessica Cameron, Katherine Holden and Amanda Thompson – made their debuts against the Badgers.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, was playing the third and final game of an exhibition tour through B.C., having notched previous wins over the Victoria Vikes (73-53) and the UBC Thunderbirds (72-47).
The Badgers got off to a great start on Wednesday, building a 10-0 lead before the Cascades got their first points off a three-pointer from Zawada. The hosts found some traction at that juncture, surging ahead 18-15 after Sartori scored six straight points to open the second quarter and Claggett followed with a three-point play.
Wisconsin recovered to take a 29-25 lead into the break, but UFV owned the early part of the third quarter and held the lead late in the frame.
Ultimately, turnovers sunk the Cascades. They surrendered 13 turnovers in the fourth quarter alone, and 33 for the game, paving the way for the Badgers to stretch the lead to double digits in the waning minutes.
“When you have that many young kids in the lineup, you know your execution probably isn’t going to be great,” Tuchscherer acknowledged. “And you know you’re probably going to turn the ball over a bit in your first game of the season against a quality opponent like that. But I thought for the most part, our new kids were pretty composed out there. They were gritty, which I just love, and made some big plays as well.”