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UFV/TWU Sports Thursday – Cascades and Spartans Start Hoops Weekend

Fraser Valley (Dan Kinvig) – Women’s Basketball: Cascades smother previously undefeated Spartans 70-47

An airtight defensive performance and an offensive breakthrough from Alexis Worrell sparked an impressive blowout win for the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team over the Trinity Western Spartans on Thursday evening.

A highly anticipated match-up at the Langley Events Centre between the top two teams in the West Division slowly lost any sense of drama, as the Cascades stifled the Spartans to the tune of 22.6 per cent shooting from the field.

At the other end of the court, fourth-year guard Worrell exploded for a career-best 17 points, eclipsing her previous career-high point total of eight in the first half alone.

Deanna Tuchscherer returned to the lineup to rack up a game-high 18 points for the Cascades, and Canada West women’s basketball player of the week Maddy Gobeil continued her strong play with 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

The Cascades (8-1) and Spartans (8-1) renew hostilities next week with a pair of games at the UFV Athletic Centre (Jan. 21-22).

Nicole Fransson’s nine points were a team-high for the Spartans, but UFV held her to eight points below her season average on 3-of-13 from the field.

“I’m really happy with the direction of our team right now,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “We’re doing some things really well. Defensively, I think we make it difficult for teams to get quality shots – we did that tonight – and our offence started to flow after the first quarter. When we we’re doing that, we’ve got a lot of different weapons out there, a lot of different people who can shoot and who can score. Some things came together really well tonight.

“The girls have really embraced the idea of just being in the moment and being the best version of themselves that they can be at that particular time. It’s pretty cool to see.”

The two defences dominated early – five minutes into the first quarter, the score was 2-2. Worrell came off the bench to inspire the Cascades offensively, scoring seven quick points as the visitors owned a 15-10 lead at the end of the frame.

The Cascades steadily built on that advantage in the second, and led 37-24 at the break after Worrell’s trey from the left wing on UFV’s final possession. Worrell finished the half with 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field, and the Cascades’ defence limited the Spartans to 17.1 per cent shooting.

UFV tightened the screws further in the third quarter, outscoring TWU 17-6 in the frame, and they stretched the lead to 30 points (60-30) after Madison Draayers drained a pair of triples to open the fourth quarter.

Afterward, Coach Tuchscherer noted how proud he was of Worrell, who went 3-for-5 from downtown and added two steals.

“It’s really rewarding to see it all come together for a senior player in her final year,” he said. “Lex is playing with a lot of confidence right now . . . and she really understands her role. Last week she started, tonight she was first off the bench. She can do a bunch of different things for us, and she’s just embracing that. Her shot’s looking good right now, and her defence is really solid.”

Men’s Basketball: Seyed’s late dagger lifts Cascades past Spartans in OT

In a game of wild momentum swings, it was Zubair Seyed and the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team who landed the last haymaker.

Seyed’s triple from the top of the arc with 23.7 seconds left in overtime snapped a 92-92 tie, and the Cascades hung on for a 99-95 triumph at the Langley Events Centre.

Ja’Qualyn Gilbreath poured in a game-high 38 points for the Spartans, who erased a double-digit deficit in the late stages of the fourth to send the game to OT. But in the end, Seyed’s 27-point breakthrough performance lifted UFV.

The Cascades (4-3) and Spartans (0-7) renew hostilities next week with a pair of games at the UFV Athletic Centre (Jan. 21-22).

“Rivalry game, right?” UFV head coach Joe Enevoldson marveled afterward. “The start was what I expected after not playing for 61 days, in all fairness. I thought we were slow, and they’re obviously a pretty good team in transition.

“But I expected us to kind of grind our way back into it and grind our way up to a lead, and that’s what we did. We’ve got to clean up the fourth quarters – that’s twice now in seven games where we’ve blown big leads, and we can’t do that. But kudos to them – they hit some big threes late to make it interesting.

“Regardless of game ebbs and flows, you’ve got to have good character in order to get those wins. And I thought we did tonight. We stuck together.”

The Cascades, who hadn’t played since Nov. 13 due to a litany of postponements, started extremely slowly, falling behind 14-2 early, but Seyed caught fire to get them back to within 19-15 at the end of the first quarter. He came off the bench to drop 11 points in the frame, capped by a corner trey at the buzzer.

The Spartans expanded the lead back to near double-digit territory, but the Cascades mounted a push behind Seyed and Dario Lopez, who scored seven points in the first half.

Despite the TWU doing a great job defensively on UFV’s top two scorers Vick Toor and Kyle Claggett – neither player scored in the first half – Jake Willemsen’s corner trey got UFV back to within 34-33 at the break.

Claggett perked up in the third quarter, scoring four quick points as the Cascades grabbed their first lead of the night, and the visitors would surge ahead by as many as 15 points. The Spartans mounted a push behind Canada West leading scorer Gilbreath, cutting the deficit to 59-49 late in the frame, but a pair of Dylan Kinley free throws made it 61-49 heading to the fourth.

The Spartans got back to within 71-64 after a Vlad Mihaila three, but the Cascades pushed the margin back to double digits as Toor heated up. He poured in five quick points – a three-pointer followed by a driving layup.

But TWU kept battling, and were able to take advantage of some untimely UFV turnovers to draw level at 83-83 after a Tre Fillmore triple followed by a Mason Bourcier layup with 16.9 seconds left.

After Seyed drove the right baseline and found contact at the rim but didn’t get the call, the Spartans sprinted back the other way and Gilbreath drained what appeared to be a game-winning trey at the buzzer. But the referees conferred, and arrived at a conclusion supported by video evidence – the ball was still in Gilbreath’s hand when the buzzer sounded.

The Cascades and Spartans continued to trade blows late, but with the score tied 92-92, Seyed stole the ball from Fillmore, rounded a screen from Claggett, and coolly drained the shot from beyond the arc.

Gilbreath attempted a game-tying three over a strong contest from Jordyn Sekhon, but it rimmed out and UFV shot free throws from there.

“Coach said they were going to go under the screen, so just be ready to shoot,” Seyed said afterward, reflecting on his tiebreaking shot. “I saw Q (Gilbreath) go under, and that’s a bad idea. I shot the trey and it went in.

“It’s been a long time coming. First semester, I struggled with keeping my emotions in check . . . and worrying about things I can’t control. Just worrying about what I can control and being there for my teammates, that’s when I’m going to be at my best. It feels good.”

Enevoldson called Seyed’s performance “phenomenal” and “his best game of the year by far.”

“We always knew he could score it,” Enevoldson said. “He came back after a tough foot injury against UVic (in the preseason), and I think he tried to force it a little bit, didn’t let it come to him. Tonight, I knew it was going to be a breakout game for him just based on the styles of play, and he definitely performed. In overtime he was a clutch performer – exactly why we brought him in.”

Lopez registered 15 points for the Cascades, and Kinley (14) and Claggett (10) also scored in double digits.

Bourcier scored 23 for the Spartans, and Fillmore finished with 11.

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