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UFV Sports Saturday – WBB: Rathler’s career-high scoring night sparks Cascades past Heat 75-69

Fraser Valley (Dan Kinvig) – Women’s Basketball: For the better part of the first quarter, the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team looked like a group that hadn’t seen game action in nearly two months – which is exactly what they were.

But after falling behind 8-0 four minutes in and trailing by as many as 11 points in the opening frame, the Cascades found their footing and battled back for a gritty 75-69 road win in Kelowna.

Leading the charge was Natalie Rathler – with top scorer Deanna Tuchscherer sidelined, the third-year forward came off the bench to rack up 20 points, obliterating her previous career high (nine points on Nov. 12, 2021 vs. Thompson Rivers) to spark the victory.

Rookie forward Julia Tuchscherer (19 points, seven rebounds) joined forces with Rathler to help the Cascades excel in the paint, and point guard Maddy Gobeil heated up in the second half to finish with a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) as the Cascades improved to 6-1 in Canada West play.

UFV and UBCO wrap up their weekend series on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m., presented by Co-op).

“There was a lot that went into the game tonight – scheduling, rescheduling, long breaks, natural disasters, you name it,” said Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer, whose squad’s last game was way back on Nov. 13 vs. Thompson Rivers, but hadn’t played since as their last four games of 2021 were postponed in the wake of flooding that rocked the Fraser Valley in late November.

“Our day traveling (Friday) wasn’t as planned, either. So to come out tonight, I wasn’t really expecting a work of art. But to get the W, it shows how this team operates. They’re a tight group of kids, they pick each other up, and they don’t get too rattled when things don’t go their way. Kudos to them.”

The Cascades’ start was painfully slow – their first six possessions netted 0-for-4 shooting from the field alongside two turnovers, while the Heat made their first four shots and opened an 8-0 lead.

UFV steadied the ship via efficient production in the paint from Rathler and Julia Tuchscherer. Rathler (14 points, 6-for-6 from the field in the first half) and Tuchscherer (10 points, 5-for-7) went to work, helping the Cascades close to within 22-16 at the end of the first quarter and draw level after opening the second quarter on an 8-2 run. The visitors led by as many as three late in the second, before settling for a 42-42 stalemate at the half.

The two teams traded the lead throughout the third quarter, but the Cascades gained some separation in the fourth as sophomore standout Gobeil caught fire. She knocked down a pair of critical three-pointers – the second of which gave UFV a 74-68 lead with two minutes remaining – and the Cascades hung on down the stretch.

Alexis Worrell chipped in with 12 points for UFV, while Jaeli Ibbetson (20 points, eight rebounds) had a huge night for the host Heat. Lauren Foullong (11 points) was the only other UBCO player to score in double digits.

“I’m really proud of Nat’s effort,” Al Tuchscherer said, lauding Rather’s performance. “She worked particularly hard to prepare for this season. We talked about opportunities yesterday and today with Deanna out of the lineup – about not doing too much, everyone just needing to do their part. I think Nat really embraced that. She had the opportunity, and she had a great game for us.”

The Cascades shot 43.3 per cent from the field compared to just 34.3 for the Heat, and edged UBCO 47-42 in the rebounding battle despite surrendering 17 offensive boards.

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