The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's basketball team
For the fifth-time in the last six seasons, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's basketball team are Canada West Champions. (Photo:

Huskies claim Canada West Championship once again

For the fifth-time in the last six seasons, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women's basketball team are Canada West Champions, as they defeated the Winnipeg Wesmen 68-59 on Ron & Jane Graham Centre Court at the PAC.

Carly Ahlstrom led the way on the conference's brightest stage, pacing Saskatchewan with a 22-point performance on 7-12 shooting. Tea DeMong was instrumental in the biggest game of her young Huskies career, recording 15 points on 7-7 shooting, including some big buckets down the stretch.

Saskatchewan held a two-point advantage heading into the fourth, then pulled away. Winnipeg got into foul trouble as the final frame wore along, as the green-and-white started to push the tempo and eventually, outscored the visitors 22-15 in the fourth to help hoist the Valerie Girsberger Trophy once again.

"Winning those close games really says a lot about our group. You can tell by our experience we've been in these games before. They don't get rattled and it really showed tonight," said Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis.

Winnipeg was looking for the programs first conference championship in program but ultimately came up a hair short on a night when it felt like history could be made.

Saskatchewan and Winnipeg matched up four times in the regular-season, with the pair of programs splitting the games two apiece — presenting a rubber match when it mattered the most.

The win enshrined what was a legendary conference career for Libby Epoch and Summer Masikewich. The pair of fifth-year standouts, who each were honoured with Canada West major awards earlier this week, closed their conference careers the way they started it — with a conference championship. Epoch and Masikewich won four Canada West titles in their time as Huskies in their five years of eligibility — all coming on their home floor at the PAC.

"It's crazy to me," said Masikewich. "Every year it's just a hard fought battle with the girls and we come together for a win. I'm just so proud. It's just an amazing feeling."

"How great for them in their last game on this court and they go out as champs. To win four of five in their career it's just unheard of," said Thomaidis. "Literally targets on their back from the first year and to continue to perform and produce in the biggest moments is really amazing."

It was an atmosphere fitting for a conference championship, as an official number of 1,732 filed into the PAC for the contest.

"There's no bigger stakes than this. Even at nationals, we don't get crowd noise like this," said Thomaidis. "They played a big role for us."

"We're super grateful for everyone showing up tonight. Hopefully they got their money's worth and enjoyed the game — it was a fun game to be a part of."

Both the Huskies and the Wesmen will be back in action in less than two weeks time at the U SPORTS Final 8 in Kingston, Ont. Action gets underway on Thursday at Queens University.

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