In a rambunctious, jam-packed house of 2,400 fans, the visiting University of Saskatchewan Huskies defeated the University of Regina Cougars, on their home court, 74-71 in a thrilling semi-final contest.
Leading the way for the Huskies was a trio of sharpshooters, who helped the U of S advance to the national championship game. Leading scorer Sabine Dukate, player of the game Megan Lundquist and the returning Libby Epoch, combined for 12 three pointers that were the biggest difference in the game.
“Our three point shooting, that was huge for us tonight,” said Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis. “We lead the country in three point shooting percentage, and then going into the playoffs we went ice cold. It was great timing for it to come back.”
The game started as a defensive struggle between the inter-provincial rivals, until what has become the modern strategy to the game of basketball — perimeter-based offence focused around the three point shot — became a factor.
The U of S held a 40-37 lead at the half, with their 50 per cent accuracy from the three point line being the key factor. Dukate was the player of note, nailing 5 of 9 threes before the first half came to a close.
The Huskies started the second half off strong, building an 8-point lead, capitalizing on the Cougars numerous penalties.
Regina turned it around midway through the half, locking down on defence and going on a 9-0 run to end the third period. Kyanna Giles of the Cougars played like a woman possessed, crashing the boards for key rebounds and making her shots, on way to becoming the leading scorer, for either club, with 27 points.
The fourth period was won and lost once again on the three point line. The U of S continued its onslaught from the perimeter, grabbing a six-point lead with a little over a minute to go in the game. That was before Sara Hubenig of the the Cougars hit a three that cut the lead in half, bringing the entire building to its feet in applause.
The Huskies, however, were able to hold the three-point lead, playing tough interior defence, stopping the Cougars from being able to tie the game. The Huskies ran on the court in victory as the final seconds ran down, and their ticket to the final was punched.
The Huskies will now play the Carleton Ravens in the U Sports Women’s Basketball National Final. Coach Thomaidis stressed her team will be prepared.
Tip-off for the final is Sunday at 5:30 p.m.