Friday, March 2, 2018

Cougars and Huskies Battle It Out at CKHS For Canada West Crown

Britton Belyk

REGINA – Four up, four down for the Cougars so far in the postseason. They took care of business in two straight games in both of their best-of-three series leading up to Friday's championship game, defeating UBC in the quarterfinals and Calgary in a hard-fought semifinal series last weekend at the CKHS. Regina will enter the Canada West title game with an impressive 31-3 non-conference record after the Cougars went 9-1 in non-conference, 18-2 in Canada West play, and have started out the postseason with four straight wins. The Cougars continue to hold down the No. 2 ranking in the country behind only Carleton. The Cougars earned two all-star selections this year, with second-year guard Kyanna Giles earning first-team honours and fifth-year post Charlotte Kot being named a third-team all-star.

SASKATCHEWAN – The Huskies earned the No. 2 seed in the Canada West postseason after cruising through the 20-game conference schedule with only three losses. They've been tested in the playoffs with difficult home matchups against two quality teams, but passed both tests – they took out Winnipeg in three games in the quarterfinals, then went the distance again with Trinity Western but emerged with a big Game 3 win just last Saturday to earn a chance at winning their third consecutive Canada West title. Saskatchewan is led by the duo of Sabine Dukate and Summer Masikewich, both of whom were recently named conference all-stars. Dukate was a first-team all-star after shooting 42% from three-point range and leading the Huskies with 16.9 points per game, while Masikewich earned second-team honours after averaging 16.1 points and 6.9 rebounds during conference play.

Saskatchewan Regina
#1 Libby Epoch (G • 5-7 • 2nd)
#5 Sabine Dukate (G • 5-9 • 3rd)
#7 Megan Ahlstrom (G • 5-10 • 3rd)
#9 Megan Lindquist (F • 6-0 • 5th)
#11 Summer Masikewich (F • 6-2 • 2nd)
#1 Charlotte Kot (F • 6-0 • 5th)
#2 Michaela Kleisinger (G • 5-7 • 3rd)
#6 Kyia Giles (G • 5-7 • 2nd)
#7 Sara Hubenig (G • 5-9 • 5th)
#9 Kyanna Giles (G • 5-7 • 2nd)

Regina's Carolina Gonsalves  was named the Canada West Rookie of the Year on Thursday morning. It marks the second consecutive season that a University of Regina women's basketball player has been named the top first-year player in the conference. Last year, Kyanna Giles  was not only named the Canada West Rookie of the Year, but went on to earn U SPORTS Rookie of the Year honours as well.

The two rivals have met three times already this season, with the Cougars holding a 2-1 edge in those contests. Regina won a non-conference game 74-73 at the U of R in October before the two teams split a pair of games in Saskatoon to close out the Canada West schedule. The Cougars won 74-59 in the first game of that weekend series to clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs, but the Huskies salvaged a split with an 87-82 win the following night.

After seeing so much of each other in the playoffs in recent seasons – including in the Canada West championship game now three years in a row – it's hard to believe that it took 40 years for these two titans to finally meet in the playoffs when the Cougars and the Huskies finally clashed in the semifinals of the 2009 Canada West Final Four. Friday's game will mark the ninth time in the past 10 seasons they've butted heads in the playoffs – they didn't meet in 2013 or 2015, but played each other twice in the postseason last year. Saskatchewan holds a 5-3 advantage in the eight playoff meetings between the two programs.

This will be the third Canada West championship game that the Cougars have hosted, and the first against a team not named UBC. The Cougars have a 1-1 record in Canada West title games on home court, thumping the Thunderbirds 73-36 back in 2004 to win their first conference title but losing 78-59 to UBC in 2012.

Remarkably, the Cougars will be playing in their 12th Canada West championship game despite only being in the conference for 17 seasons. The vast majority of the title games have been away from the friendly confines of the CKHS – they've played eight of the championship games away, one at a neutral site, and three at home. Regina will be looking to hang its third Canada West banner in the gym, joining the 2004 and 2013 titles.

(Braden Konschuh/U of R Athletics)

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