The University of Saskatchewan team fell 64-60 to their provincial rival Regina Cougars in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport fifth-place consolation match March 19 at the University of Calgary’s Jack Simpson Gym.
It was the third meeting between the squads this year, and although the Huskies lost all three they saved their strongest performance for last.
Saskatchewan got off to a slow start, falling behind 14-7 midway through thefirst quarter. A late burst capped off by two Dalyce Emmerson foul shots, however, put the Dogs up by two going into the second frame.
Running with the momentum, the Huskies expanded the gap and took a 32-21 lead.
The Cougars weren’t ready to fall, though, and pieced together an 8-0 run before narrowing the score to 34-30 at the break.
Regina regained the lead midway through the third, going up 42-40 after Carly Graham drained a three-point shot.
The squads continued to exchange buckets until the Cougars pulled away with only one minute remaining in the game.
Down 59-60, Regina took advantage of a few missed Huskies shots from underneath the bucket and sunk two consecutive layups as well as a foul shot to seal the four-point victory.
Saskatchewan head coach Lisa Thomaidis said that while her team did have opportunities to win the game, the Huskies should be proud of their play.
“When it was all said and done, we still had two shots… to take the lead at the end of the game and they wouldn’t go down,” said Thomaidis. “We competed with the No. 1 ranked team in the country and a lot of the time we had two first-years and two second-years on the floor. It was just a phenomenal performance from our kids.”
Regina, the top-ranked team in the country, downed the Huskies by 11 points in each of their last two meetings.
Huskies sophomore guard Kabree Howard, who put up 11 points in the game, said she was surprised to see the Cougars in the consolation final and not competing for a medal.
“If you had told us at the start of the weekend that we’d be playing them for fifth, we probably wouldn’t have believed you,” said Howard. “We thought that they’d be playing for first or at least third tonight.”
“They’re great competitors and they’re always fun to play against,” added Emmerson, a rookie who led her squad with 16 points. “We know people on their team. It’s always a great battle. We would have liked to win at least one game against them.”
The head coach of the young Saskatchewan team, which graduates veterans Mary Hipperson, Amy Lackie and CIS all-star Katie Miyazaki, is optimistic that this experience at nationals will help prepare her players for a sixth consecutive CIS Final 8 appearance next year.
“This will be huge for us moving forward and hopefully we just continue the trend,” said Thomaidis. “The second-year kids that played such a pivotal role on our team this year did so because they got to go to nationals last year. This was nothing new for them…. Hopefully the same thing will happen next year — the new kids get in and they get the same experience.”
The Huskies’ earlier two games on the weekend saw Saskatchewan lose 73-70 in overtime to the Ottawa Gee-Gees but rebound with a 58-53 win over the McGill Martlets.
The Windsor Lancers defeated the UBC Thunderbirds in the tournament final to claim their second consecutive national title.
File Photo: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf