The UNBC Timberwolves battled, but came up short against a long, athletic UFV Cascades team, falling 73-48 on Saturday, October 30 in Abbotsford.
In the early going, it was the home Cascades coming out the more inspired team. Using good ball movement and a height advantage across the board, UFV hopped out to an 11-2 lead in the first five minutes. The combination of Deanna Tuchscherer and Julia Tuchscherer each had four points in the opening push, as the Timberwolves looked to settle down.
The Cascades continued to pressure, but the TWolves did find their stride in the final minutes, as an Anastasia Soltes layup and Alina Shakirova three-pointer cut into the deficit.
At the end of the quarter, UFV held a 15-11 lead, thanks in part to forcing five turnovers from the Timberwolves.
In the second quarter, the Cascades continued to cause problems with their size and persistent pressure, while the Timberwolves couldn’t seem to get any open shots to drop. A 13-4 run looked eerily similar to the first quarter, while UNBC struggled to get the engine started offensively. Julia Tuchscherer and Victoria Jacobse used their size advantages to pour on the pressure, and the backcourt combination of Maddy Gobeil and Nikki Cabuco showed its dynamic qualities by penetrating for easy buckets.
Shakirova tried to lead a surge the other way, getting to the line on a number of possessions with some nifty footwork, but the first half was tough sledding for the green and gold, as they found themselves down 36-21. Shakirova paced the Timberwolves with 12 points and three rebounds, while Julia Tuchscherer was UFV’s leader with 13 points and nine boards.
“Playing against a big team, it can be hard to get those boards. We only have a couple bigger players. Alina was crashing the boards, but we can’t just have them getting those rebounds,” said UNBC guard Sarah Kuklisin. “The team needs to box out. UFV some long girls at all five positions. Even advancing the ball can be tough. We did an okay job defensively, but we need to be more physical and do our job.”
If there is a rule that Canada West freshmen can’t make a major mark, no one told Julia Tuchscherer, who continued to have her way in the paint in the third quarter. The first-year post had a pair of offensive boards and putbacks early in the frame to extend the Cascades lead, as the advantage got to 20 points. However, Shakirova continued to show why she is one of the savvier players in the conference, making a big three and a tough layup to claw UNBC back into the game.
As the quarter wound down, UFV’s ball movement continued to tire the undersized Timberwolves, but UNBC did well to stay in the game thanks to five late points from freshman guard Sarah Kuklisin. After 30 minutes, the Cascades held a comfortable 53-38 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, with the result all but official, the Timberwolves were able to go to the bench and get some of their freshmen some valuable playing time. Maggie Mowser saw her first career action, as did first-year guard Adaiah Tupas-Singh, against a Cascades team that figures to be in the mix for the conference championship.
“It is important. We are such a young team and it is good to have everyone contribute in their own way,” said Kuklisin. “Everyone needs to chip in, and the young players are adjusting so well from the pace of high school. Taylor was doing well, Maggie came in and was assertive. That will all pay off.”
Al Tuchscherer’s program was strong in stretching the lead in the final frame, as Gobeil and Cabuco continued to assert themselves at both ends of the court. When the buzzer sounded, the Cascades had moved to 2-0 on the season with a 73-48 victory.
For UNBC, Shakirova led the way with 22 points and six rebounds. Kuklisin added nine points and three steals off the bench, while Boykova had seven points and 11 rebounds.
For UFV, the freshman Tuchscherer went for 25 points, 18 rebounds, and four blocks. Cabuco added 16 points and six assists, while Gobeil was good for 12 points and eight rebounds.
“Our energy was good this weekend. When they got a lead late, we did run out of gas tonight,” said Kuklisin, postgame. “We aren’t happy with how we played at times tonight, but we learned a lot this game. We need to get more physical and just stay focused and get through it.”