The UFV women's basketball team is headed to the CIS Final 8 after defeating the University of Alberta Pandas, 68-57 in Calgary to clinch the third and final Canada West berth on Saturday.
"Making our first appearance at the Final 8 is another accomplishment and another first for this team," beamed head coach Al Tuchscherer.
This marks the program's first appearance at the CIS Final 8 national championship for the women's team, which will be held in Regina, Sask., March 15-17.
After trailing for most of the night, the No. 3 ranked Cascades turned an eight-point halftime deficit into an 11-point victory, outscoring the Pandas by a whopping 30-15 margin in the fourth quarter.
After struggling to find their footing in the first half, the Cascades were lights out from the field shooting nearly 52 per cent in the second half.
That included 5-for-10 from beyond the arc as they cut the deficit to four after the third quarter, then embarking on the 30-15 whitewash in the fourth.
Back-to-back threes by Courtney Bartel and Aieisha Luyken brought the Cascades within two points with just under two minutes to play in the third; a Sarah Wierks layup in the opening minute of the fourth tied it at 42-42, and the Pandas would not lead again after that point.
The Cascades were led by the tandem of Nicole Wierks and Kayli Sartori, both putting up matching 17-point, seven-rebound efforts.
Luyken added 15, mostly from the outside as she splashed four of her seven chances from long range.
Sarah Wierks matched the seven-rebound efforts of Nicole and Sartori.
"Alberta came in really energized and motivated. We battled through the first half to keep things close which was key," said Tuchscherer.
"Midway through the third I thought we really regrouped and started really believing in the things we do well. It was a great fourth quarter with many players again making big plays to secure the win."