Photo: Coach Taylor and Megan Cherkas. Photo by Sean Lerat-Stetner.
by Sean Lerat-Stetner
As the end of the season draws near, the University of Regina’s Cougar women’s basketball team find themselves in a very favourable position. Win the next two games and they will be able to claim the third seed in the national Canadian Interuniversity Sport tournament.
Before the start of week 13 in the CIS the Cougars had a record of 11 wins and three losses and were in fifth place nationally– but you would never know it by looking at the national statistical leaders. The representation of Cougar players in the CIS stat categories is minimal, to say the least. With only three players in the top 20 in two out of 10 statistical categories, one would not expect to see the Cougars in the position they currently find themselves.
One of the biggest factors as to why the Cougars are such a strong team is because of the chemistry among the players.
“We’re just really balanced, so there’s no one that’s going to be a leading scorer game in and game out...so that is just a testament to how deep we are as a team, as opposed to relying on one or two stars,” said coach Dave Taylor.
Chelsea Cassano, fifth year starting post, agrees. “We’re a pretty close team, we all get along, we’re pretty tight.”
For the 421 people in attendance at the Jan. 16 against the Albert Golden Bears, the Cougars demonstrated the kind of team chemistry that Cassano and coach Taylor were talking about. The first half of the game was a back and forth affair that saw the Cougars get into a bit of foul trouble. But they managed to pull off a 12-point lead heading into halftime. In the third quarter the Cougars came out and turned it on, outscoring Alberta by ten points. They managed to keep their foul situation in check and surge forward en route to a 77-58 victory.
Unfortunately the Cougars were unable to perform as well against their rival, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, the following day. The first half saw the Cougars being outscored 32-26. After the halftime break the Huskies came back out and finished the job they started in the first half, scoring 26 third quarter points to the Cougars’ 13. The final result was a 76-48 loss for the Cougars.
The weekend split of the two games leaves Cougars sitting in fourth place in the CIS. This means the Cougars should enter the national tournament in the middle of the pack--barring any catastrophic breakdowns. However, the team has not lost sight of the remaining games ahead.
“We still don’t focus on (the tournament) lots, other than to talk about having to play well. We’re really trying to avoid (talking about it), to be honest,” said Taylor.
Cassano said the players are “very excited” about the tournament. “Having it at home is definitely an advantage... but the games aren’t going to be any different because we are at home. We’re still going to have to play as good as we can.”