CALGARY – An airtight defensive performance and some blue-collar work on the boards paved the way for the Alberta Pandas as they knocked off the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades 62-48 in Canada West women’s basketball quarter-final action on Thursday.
The Pandas limited the Cascades to just 27.1 per cent shooting from the field (16-for-59), and while they didn’t shoot much better themselves (31.4 per cent), they generated extra possessions by winning the rebounding battle (55-35) in decisive fashion.
With the win, Alberta advances to Friday’s semifinal to face the Calgary Dinos, who got past the UNBC Timberwolves 87-68 in Thursday’s earlier quarter-final. Game time is 4:30 p.m. local time at Calgary’s Jack Simpson Gym (CanadaWest.tv presented by Co-op).
“I think this whole second term, we’ve found our groove defensively,” Pandas coach Scott Edwards said. “We’re a dynamic team defensively and can do a lot of different things. Fraser Valley is so talented offensively, we had our hands full tonight. But I’m so proud of our kids. I think we stepped up, for sure.”
The Pandas’ defensive chops were on display from the opening tip – they held the Cascades scoreless for nearly four minutes to start the game, with rookie forward Deanna Tuchscherer eventually breaking through with a bucket in the post.
Alberta built a 15-4 lead, but UFV responded with a 10-0 run bridging the first and second quarters, capped by back-to-back triples from Tuchscherer and Maddy Gobeil, to cut the deficit to 15-14. The Pandas, though, buckled down on defence once again, scoring the next eight points and taking a 31-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Throughout the second half, Alberta answered every UFV surge with one of their own. The Cascades’ last gasp came after Gobeil hit consecutive treys to trim the deficit – which had peaked at 21 points in the third quarter – back down to 12, at 50-38. Jenna Harpe helped the Pandas seal the win, scoring eight points down the stretch.
Harpe finished with a game-high 18 points for the Pandas, and Vanessa Wild (14) and Morgan Mudge (11) also scored in double figures.
Gobeil paced the Cascades with 16 points, Tuchscherer scored 13, and Claggett – UFV’s all-time leading scorer – posted eight points and four rebounds in what turned out to be the final game of her university career.
Looking ahead to Friday’s clash with archrival Calgary, Edwards said “it’ll be fun.”
“You know what the Dinos are going to bring to the game,” he said. “They’re a tremendous team, unbelievably well-coached and unbelievable talent and depth in that group. The series we had three weeks ago was a really interesting series. We each won on each other’s floor, and Game 3 is for the right to go to nationals.”