Convincing win carries Cap to finals

CJ Pentland, CapU Sports Information Director / Photos Paul Yates, Vancouver Sports Pictures

Playing their first game in nearly two weeks, the Capilano University Blues showed no signs of rust, stating their claim as the tournament’s top seed and cruising to a 76-37 victory over the Camosun College Chargers to advance to Saturday’s PACWEST Provincial final.

Capilano took control from the get-go, setting the tone on both ends of the floor. Sherrie Errico hit two quick three-pointers to help the Blues build up and early advantage, and Karyn Nelson established herself under the rim with strong rebounding. PACWEST Player of the Year Carmelle M’Bikata also had little trouble establishing position in the post on offence.

On the defensive end, Capilano keyed in on Camosun’s Kathryn Cardell – who had 27 points in the Chargers’ quarterfinal win over Quest on Thursday – and it left their offence in disarray. The Chargers struggled to find open shots, and often were forced into contested three-pointers – which the Blues took advantage of by securing the rebound and quickly pushing the ball upcourt to score in transition.

Camosun scored 95 points against Capilano in their last meeting in February, but the Blues made the right adjustments on Friday. They forced 12 turnovers in the opening half and limited the Chargers to just 18% shooting from the floor, and built up a 36-18 advantage at the half.

Capilano didn’t ease up out of the break, quickly pushing their lead to over 30. Brittany Wertman knocked down a trio of three-pointers, and Ashley De La Cruz Yip continued to push the tempo and create open looks under the basket. The lead increased to 35 after three, and Cap allowed just eight points in the fourth quarter to close out a 76-37 win.

“[Defence] has really been a focus over the last few weeks since the regular season ended,” said head coach Ramin Sadaghiani. “We’ve really stressed it in practice, working on every situation that we might see on the court, and it’s great to see that it’s paying off on the court.”

M’Bikata was named Player of the Game for Capilano, scoring 16 points to go along with 10 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. Wertman led the team in scoring with 18 points, and Nelson finished off her strong night with 18 rebounds. Cap also received plenty of contributions from the second unit, as the Blues outscored Camosun’s bench 24-3.

“Karyn gave us a big boost, especially early on with a lot of offensive rebounds,” said Sadaghiani. “Brit [Wertman] shot the ball real well, and Carmelle is just Carmelle, pretty consistent all the time. When we get multiple people going, we’re tough to stop.”

The Blues will take on local rival Douglas College in the gold medal final tomorrow at Quest University in Squamish. The Blues took the season series 2-1, but the Royals – who finished the regular season 14-4 and just behind Capilano in the standings – took the last meeting back in February. It’s the second-straight year that Capilano has made the PACWEST final; they’ll look to redeem last year’s defeat to VIU to earn their first gold medal since 2011.

Tip-off for the game goes at 5:30pm, and can be viewed online at pacwestbc.tv.