author: nathan mccarville | sports writer
Cougars finish 1st, earn first round bye / nathan mccarville
Cougars get to enjoy bye week before playoffs
Well, It’s a wrap for the women’s basketball team’s regular season. The Cougars played their final games of their regular season on their home court against the Saskatchewan Huskies. Finishing the season strong, the women won both of their games against the visiting Huskies.
The Cougars won the first game of the weekend by six points, and the second game by 14 points, providing exciting games for the fans as the season came to an end. With the attendance of both games exceeding 1700 fans in the stands, the turnout was one of the best that the women’s basketball team has seen this season. Among those 1700 fans, an entire section wore green shirts with the words “Chrissy’s Army” across the front to show their support for their favourite player on the court. There was even a group of fans with whistles and various noise-makers to help cheer on Christina McCusker of the Cougars during her very last regular season game of McCusker’s university basketball career. Playing an integral part in the team’s success throughout the seasons that she attended the University of Regina, during the farewell ceremony at the end of the game on Feb. 2, her head coach, Dave Taylor, said that McCusker finished as one of the top-ten players for the Cougars women’s basketball team.
Previously playing against the Huskies in the pre-season on Oct. 11, 2018 at the Cougar Classic, it saw the Huskies come out on top, beating the Cougars by seven points in the preseason game, with a final score of 80-73 in favour of the Saskatchewan Huskies.
The first game played during the weekend on Feb. 1 saw a close match up between the two Saskatchewan teams. The game did not start off as sure as the Cougars would have liked, with the Cougars behind for the first half of the game. The score at the half stood at 41-28 in favour of the Huskies. Usually a score like this would lead into a second half that mirrors the first, though the Cougars wouldn’t tolerate that on the second last game of their season on their own court. Coming out of the intermission hot, the Cougars scored 23 points in the third quarter, and another 31 points in the fourth, scoring the majority of their points, 54 to be exact, in the last half of the game. The Huskies could only keep up with the 35 points worth of baskets that they scored in the second half as the Cougars played their hardest, and both teams on the court provided a fantastic game to watch. Notable players on the Cougars included Carolina Goncalves who scored an astounding 23 points throughout the game, followed by Kyanna Giles with 20 points, and Michaela Kleisinger with 16 points right behind her teammate.
However, it was the second game of the weekend that provided the excitement and buzz for a final wrap-up of the season. Improving upon their performance of the previous day, the Cougars finished their final game of the regular season with a score of 78-64. This was the game where the Cougars really shined as a team.
The Huskies were the first to put points on the scoreboard with a couple lay-ups, though the Cougars were quick to catch up. Controlling the ball for a good portion of the game, the Cougars’ quick thinking put them ahead by the first quarter with a score of 18-11. The following quarter found the Cougars sitting at 33-28 against the Huskies. The Cougars took off in the second half of the game, keeping their score ahead of the Huskies at any moment as the game went on. Scoring another 25 points in the third, and 20 in the fourth, the Cougars’ last game culminated in a score of 78-64 in favour of Regina’s home team.
Every player played their part in the final game, giving the Cougars one last big win in their regular season, though players who showed such distinction that translated into points on the scoreboard were Kyanna Giles with 19 points, Macaela Crone with 18 points, Michaela Kleisinger with 12 points, and the senior Christina McCusker matching Kleisinger’s score with 12 points, as well. It wasn’t just the Cougars who played with this sort of distinction either, Libby Epoch of the Huskies scored 23 point in the game for a third of her team’s points, followed by teammates Sabine Dukate with nine points and Kyla Shand with a similar score of nine as well.
The results of the final games finally gave the Cougars their deserved spot on the Canada West standings, as well as putting the Cougars to an eight-game win streak during the last games of their regular season. Ranked first among the 17 Canada West teams, the Cougars are counted among the 12 teams that qualified for Canada West playoffs. The Canada West quarterfinals are set to be held in Regina’s own gym, the CKHS gymnasium later this month on Feb. 14-16. The schedule still to be announced to fans and the teams, the Cougars head into finals as the top team among their peers.