Abbotsford – A prolific performance from beyond the arc powered the Florida Atlantic Owls to a 90-77 victory over the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team on Friday evening.
The Owls, an NCAA Div. 1 program, shot the ball frequently and with great efficiency from the three-point line, knocking down 15 of 34 attempts (44.1 per cent) from long distance.
Florida Atlantic’s red-hot shooting was necessary to nullify a phenomenal all-around performance from the Cascades’ Kayli Sartori. The reigning Canada West scoring champ poured in a game-high 23 points to go with eight assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Shayna Litman (17 points) and Kate Head (12 points, 5-for-7 from the field) also chipped in offensively for UFV, while Florida Atlantic had three players score in double figures: Vashnie Perry (18), Julia Jenike (11) and Katelyn O’Reilly (11).
The Cascades were coming off a 64-50 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers in their preseason debut on Wednesday, and Florida Atlantic provided a different type of test. Whereas the Badgers were a huge, physical team, the Owls excelled by pushing the ball and hoisting a high volume of shots from beyond the arc.
“They played at a much faster pace and were much more perimeter-oriented, and the first half, I didn’t think we adjusted to that well and I didn’t think we played with a lot of energy,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said afterward. “We talked about that at halftime, and I thought the girls really came out and competed hard in the second half and turned things around a little bit. It was a great character time for our team.
“It was a great week, especially for our young kids to see some quality opponents who play different styles. When we’re in Canada West play from week to week, one week you’ll play a big team and the next week it’s a team that can really shoot the ball and execute. It’s good for us to see that right now.”
UFV got an early lift from Head on Friday. The sophomore point guard from Maple Ridge scored six quick points to stake the hosts to a 10-6 lead, but the Owls finished the first quarter on a 6-0 run and held a 20-13 edge at the end of the frame.
The second quarter played out in similar fashion, with UFV keeping it close before a late run from Florida Atlantic boosted their advantage to 50-36 at halftime.
Both teams caught fire offensively in the third quarter – Sartori and Litman scored 11 and nine points apiece, respectively, in the frame, but the Owls countered with some incendiary outside shooting. They drained five triples in a four-minute stretch to keep the Cascades at bay and maintain a 73-60 lead heading to the fourth.
The Owls continued their scalding perimeter shooting down the stretch, pushing the lead as high as 20, but the Cascades made a determined push to cut the deficit in the dying minutes.
Four Florida Atlantic players hit three triples apiece: Jenike, Tyanna Robinson, Raven Doyel and Malia Kency.
As for his team’s execution, Tuchscherer noted that “you could tell it was Aug. 12.” The Cascades shot 51 per cent (26-of-51) from the field, but surrendered 26 turnovers compared to just 16 for the Owls.
“We were pretty good at creating stuff off broken plays tonight, and it helps when you have Kayli,” he noted.