VICTORIA (U SPORTS) – The battle between two teams from Saskatchewan took a surprising turn on Saturday night, as the Regina Cougars fought back from a 23-3 first-quarter deficit to pull off a 79-76 victory in the ArcelorMittal Dofasco U SPORTS Women's Final 8 consolation final.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE: http://en.usports.ca/championships/wbkb/index
"I was not happy with our first quarter so I benched my starters," said Regina head coach Dave Taylor of his team's turnaround. "We talked at the quarter break about 'Is this how we want to end our season.' I challenged them, told them what I thought about that quarter and how I thought they should feel."
Second-year Regina guard Avery Pearce hit what turned out to be the game-winning three-pointer with just under a minute left in the contest. That basket helped Regina flip the script on Saskatchewan just a week after the Huskies got the better of the Cougars in the Canada West conference final.
The win against a tough, young provincial rival helped secured Regina a fifth-place finish at the tournament, one year after the team finished sixth in the country.
"There's a lot of respect, a lot of these players play together on provincial teams and Lisa Thomaidis does a great job with that program," said Taylor of the provincial rivalry between the two teams.
"It's a great rivalry," added Thomaidis. "It's the reason we are two of the best teams in the country and continuing to be that way is because there is a lot of talent on both teams. We battle hard and that makes us better."
In the last game of her U SPORTS career, fifth-year guard Katie Polischuk finished with a game-high 21 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists. It was a fitting send-off for an athlete who ranks seventh all-time in University of Regina history with 1,133 career points in 95 Canada West games played.
Unsurprisingly, Polischuk was named Regina's Player of the Game.
"I'm happy for her," said Taylor of Polischuk. "She's been struggling a little bit, taking good shots but tonight they started going down for her. I'm just thrilled that she got to end her university career with that."
Megan Lindquist earned Player of the Game honours for Saskatchewan after putting up 18 points and seven rebounds, all of which came in her own end. The fourth-year forward was followed on the boxscore by teammates Sabine Dukate and Summer Masikewich, who had 17 and 13 points, respectively.
Second-year guard Megan Ahlstrom added five boards for the Huskies in a game that saw Regina edge Saskatchewan 51-40 in the rebound column.
After shooting 50 per cent from the field in the first quarter, the Huskies fell flat on offence, shooting 20 percent in the second quarter and 15.4 percent in the third. The Cougars, on the other hand, bounced back from hitting 15.8 per cent in the first quarter to shoot 50 per cent from the floor in both the second and fourth quarters.
"They have a lot of offensive weapons and you knew it was a matter of time before they started knocking down some threes," said Thomaidis. "Unfortunately I thought we gave them too many open looks to get them going."
Official Boxscore: http://en.usports.ca/championships/wbkb/2017/championship
REG: 10-23-20-26: 79
SASK: 26-12-16-22: 76
Points: Katie Polischuk (21), Christina McCusker (10), Sara Hubenig (10)
Rebounds: Kyanna Giles (10), Katie Polischuk (7)
Assists: Katie Polischuk (4), Sara Hubenig (3), Michaela Kleisinger (3)
Player of the Game: Katie Polischuk
Player of the game: Megan Lindquist
SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times PT)
Thursday, March 9
12:00 p.m. Quarter-final 1: No.3 Queen's (60) vs. No. 6 Cape Breton (51) (USPORTS.LIVE)
2:00 p.m. Quarter-final 2: No. 2 Saskatchewan (59) vs. No. 7 Laval (69) (USPORTS.LIVE)
6:00 p.m. Quarter-final 3: No. 4 McGill (72) vs. No. 5 Regina (62) (USPORTS.LIVE)
8:00 p.m. Quarter-final 4: No. 1 Carleton (77) vs. No. 8 Victoria (66) (USPORTS.LIVE)
Friday, March 10
6:00 p.m. Consolation 1: Cape Breton (51) vs. Saskatchewan (65) (USPORTS.LIVE)
8:00 p.m. Consolation 2: Regina (78) vs. Victoria (64) (USPORTS.LIVE)
Saturday, March 11
2:00 p.m. Semifinal 1: Queen's (67) vs. Laval (78) (Sportsnet 360/SN Now)
4:00 p.m. Semifinal 2: McGill (66) vs. Carleton (60) (Sportsnet 360/SN Now)
7:00 p.m. Saskatchewan (76) vs. Regina (79) (USPORTS.LIVE)
Sunday, March 12
10:00 a.m. Queen's vs. Carleton (USPORTS.LIVE)
1:00 p.m. Laval vs. McGill (Sportsnet 360/SN Now)