The Saskatchewan Huskies maintained #1 and clinched home court throughout the Canada West playoffs with a pair of wins over Regina, earning a huge away victory hanging on by the skin of their teeth with a 67-66 win in the first game of the series.
Regina out-scored Saskatchewan 26-16 in the fourth quarter with 11 coming from Danielle Schmidt, part of her 18 on the game. Joanna Zalesiak was uncharacteristically cold in this one, going just 2-for-13 from the field and registering just six points. Jill Humbert could not be stopped, registering a game-high 19 playing all 40 minutes of action, with five assists. Kim Tulloch had a 10-point, 10-board double-double.
Saturday was more of Saskatchewan's game, this one coming on their home court as the second half of the home-and-home. The Huskies offense was apparent, dropping triple digits over the Cougars in a 100-87 victory with a 59-point first half. Humbert had 26 and took over the conference scoring lead from opposite Zalesiak, despite the Cougar guard's 23. Lindsey Ledingham had another strong performance for naught for Regina, dropping 30 points, however, she turned the ball over four times, out of 29 overall for her team. Tulloch had 24 or Saskatchewan while Katie Miyazaki again showed her multi-talents, grabbing a game-high five defensive boards, seven assists and 19 points of her own in 36 minutes.
Saskatchewan clinches first place in the Canada West Conference.
Despite two wins from the TRU WolfPack last weekend over Victoria, a late playoff push was not in the cards as they surrendered two close losses to the UBC Thunderbirds, who were far more prepared and organized on both ends of the floor. The 'Pack hung with the T-Birds in Friday's 62-55 defeat, with Diane Schuetze leading the way with 13 points and seven rebounds, but Lia St. Pierre and Alex Vieweg hit some key first half shots, each putting up 17 in total, to help UBC pull away from TRU early before a 20-13 fourth quarter rally brought the score to a respectable margin.
Alas, the WolfPack were eliminated officially with a loss Saturday, despite 21 points from Jen Ju, who shot 9-for-18 in the 80-71 loss. The WolfPack actually held a 39-32 halftime lead, but as has been the case for both the men and women's WolfPack teams throughout my five years here in Kamloops, a poor second half, emphasized brilliantly by 5-for-16 shooting from the free throw line, allowed UBC to creep back into this one and end up with the 9-point win. Vieweg had 19 and 11 rebounds for her second double-double on the weekend.
The WolfPack loss allowed Calgary and UFV to clinch playoff berths, despite Calgary losing twice to Alberta. Now, back on January 14, the Cascades upset Alberta 69-63, and that game is important since the third tie-breaker formula is record against playoff opponents. Not counting their games against each other, UFV is 1-11 while Calgary is 0-10, with two games coming up against Saskatchewan this weekend who may rest their top players. They need both wins, and a miracle by winless Brandon over the Cascades, to avoid the Huskies in the playoffs.
The Cascades would likely face Winnipeg, who need a single win over 4-18 Lethbridge on the road to clinch the second seed. A pair of games between Victoria and UBC in Victoria will decide the other two playoff matchups, with both teams standing at 15-7. The winner will likely draw Alberta on the road while the loser will travel to Regina.