Tanner Michalenko, Saskatchewan Sports Information Student Assistant
SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies are heading to the Canada West Final to defend back-to-back conference titles after defeating the Trinity Western University Spartans 72-48 in the deciding Game 3 of a Canada West semifinal series Saturday night on Ron & Jane Graham Court at the PAC.
The Huskies advance to the conference championship game for the fifth year in a row and will look to make it three straight Canada West titles and fourth in five years. The win also books Saskatchewan's ticket to the national Final 8.
Saskatchewan will meet the Regina Cougars in the final for the third straight year. The Spartans will play the Calgary Dinos for a conference bronze and the final spot in the national championship.
It was Saskatchewan's most dominating defensive performance of the playoffs. They refused to allow more than 14 points per quarter and set the tone early on in the first half. Fifteen Spartan turnovers in the opening 20 minutes gave the Huskies 16 points. Saskatchewan only turned the ball over twice in the first half, and finished with nine turnovers total to the Spartans 22. A 9-3 run at the end of the second quarter gave Saskatchewan a 41-24 lead at the half.
A 12-3 run in the third grew the Huskie lead to as big as 27 in the quarter. They took a 60-34 lead into the fourth, where they were able to rest their starters and cruise to the 24-point victory.
Rookie forward Kyla Shand finished with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and five rebounds, while Second-Team All-Star Summer Masikewich posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Sabine Dukate recorded nine points with a game-high six assists.
For the Spartans, Sarah Buckingham finished with a team-high 12 points and six rebounds. Kayla Gordon recorded nine points, six rebounds and three assists.
Saskatchewan controlled the boards, outrebounding the Spartans 44-30. The Huskies also recorded 37 bench points, to the Spartans 15.
The Huskies shot 28-of-72, while Trinity Western finished 15-of-54.
The single-elimination Canada West Championship game will be held in Regina on March 2nd. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.