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Women’s basketball overcomes top-seeded Pandas to reach nationals

After four straight years making the Canada West final four but being unable to get to nationals, the Cascades finally mastered the climb. The women’s basketball team is heading to Windsor next weekend to do battle with the best women’s basketball teams in the entire country.

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By Nathan Hutton (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: March 12, 2014

Kayli Sartori (left) and the women’s basketball team fought their way into a top-two Canada West finish. (Image: University of the Fraser Valley / Flickr)

Kayli Sartori (left) and the women’s basketball team fought their way into a top-two Canada West finish. (Image: University of the Fraser Valley / Flickr)

After four straight years making the Canada West final four but being unable to get to nationals, the Cascades finally mastered the climb. The women’s basketball team is heading to Windsor next weekend to do battle with the best women’s basketball teams in the entire country.

The spectacular feat proves that the UFV fans have had the chance all year to witness one of the eight best women’s basketball teams in Canada.

The Cascades not only made the national tournament, but also defeated one of the highest ranked teams all year to get there: the University of Alberta Pandas.

In a game that many CIS basketball pundits are calling the team’s game of the year, the fifth-ranked Cascades upset the number one seed in Canada West (third in the country) in spectacular fashion.

The back-and-forth affair featured a stunning 16 lead changes and stand-out performances on both sides of the ball. The Pandas’ Andria Carlyon registered a team-high 17 points, with most of them coming from her shooting 13-14 from the free throw line. However, UFV’s Aieshia Luyken stole the show and proved herself worthy of her second team Canada West all-star award.

Luyken led the team by scoring an astounding 29 points, including 57 per cent from the three-point line and 62 per cent shooting overall.

For much of the season head coach Al Tuchscherer has claimed that the Cascades have one of the deepest benches in the league, and they proved it in this game. Kaitlyn Brink, Sarah Wierks, and Kayli Sartori fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter, forcing players to step up in during crunch time and pull out the big win.

The final frame proved to be the difference, with the Cascades outscoring the Pandas 19-9 and taking their largest lead of the game to win 66-56.

In the Canada West gold medal game the Cascades stayed right with the University of Saskatchewan for the first three quarters, with the two teams duelling back and forth. The Cascades held the lead at the half by four points. However, the Cascades couldn’t overcome a huge third quarter from the Huskies, which forced the game right out of the Cascades’ hands. UFV ended up losing the game, but still secured the team’s first silver medal and trip to nationals, where there’s always the potential for a rematch.

The CIS final eight goes next weekend in Windsor. The Cascades will first be matched up against McGill University in their quarterfinal, which starts at 5 p.m on Friday. All games are streamable online through the CIS website. Semifinals and medal games follow on the subsequent Saturday and Sunday, and will also be broadcast on Sportsnet 360.

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