By Nathan Frank

 

The number one ranked University of Regina Cougars women’s basketball team is taking little pride in its record-breaking start to the season.

Led by a dominant fourth quarter by guard Michelle Clark, the Cougars defeated the University of Fraser Valley Cascades 78-61 on January 20th for a team record of 12 straight wins to start the season. Clark finished the game with 22 points, most coming in the fourth quarter.

 

The win broke the previous team record of 11 wins to start a season, which the Cougars accomplished in 2001-2002 and 2003-2004.

         

 

Acknowledging that the streak is impressive, fifth year guard Carly Graham said it is important the record doesn’t distract the team.

 

“It is nice to have the record, but you kind of need to separate it from what you are doing because if you put that kind of pressure on yourself it makes it kind of hard.”

 

For coach Dave Taylor the streak isn’t important because the team hasn’t secured a playoff spot or clinched first place. With many great teams over the past 15 years, including the 2001 National Championship team, it surprises Taylor that other Cougar teams haven’t had longer streaks to start the season.

 

Taylor said this year’s team reminds him of a strong Cougar teams of the past.

 

“I think our starting lineup is very dynamic. It is very similar to our 2004 team. It was ranked number one a lot of the year and ended up losing in the national final.”

 

The strong back-court Taylor refers to is headed by two import guards: third year, Clark, from Westlake Village, Calif. and fourth year, Joanna Zalesiak, from Gorzow Wielkopolski, Poland. Also key to the team’s success, according to Taylor is the strong core of local talent. There are 10 Regina products on the team altogether.

 

The team has the same goal it had to begin the season.

 

“My expectation at the beginning of the year was that I thought we were really good and I thought that we were one of four teams in Canada that could win it all.” Taylor, said.

 

With five games remaining on the schedule the Cougars still have everything left to accomplish. If the Cougars finish the season in first place they will host the first round of the playoffs. And with a top four finish in the first round they will also host the Canada West Championships.

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