For Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hoops, great defence leads to great offence

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WATCH ABOVE: The Saskatchewan Huskies women's basketball team is lighting up the scoreboard thanks in part to strong defensive play – Jan 18, 2018

The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team will play at home for the first time in more than six weeks on Friday and the players are glad to be back.

“We’re all so excited not to have to leave school on Thursday, be able to play in front of our family and friends again,” fifth-year forward Megan Lindquist said of their upcoming matchup with the Trinity Western University Spartans.

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Even though they’ve been away for a while the Huskies haven’t stopped winning. They are tied for top spot in the Canada West conference with a record of 13-1 and they’re scoring at a prodigious pace, leading the conference with more than 84 points per game.

While the gaudy offensive numbers get most of the headlines, it all starts at the other end of the floor.

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“I think a lot of our defensive play creates a lot of our open shots on offence and really gets our offence going, so it goes unnoticed but it’s definitely one of the biggest reasons why our field goal percentage and everything is so high,” second-year point guard Libby Epoch said.

Saskatchewan ranks first in the conference in points against (55.3 per game), rebounds allowed (26.1 per game) and opponents’ three-point field goal percentage (22.9 per cent).

The Dogs’ overall opponents’ field goal percentage of 34.3 is second only to the University of Regina Cougars, the team they’re battling for first place.

“We definitely take pride in holding our opponents to a low number and I think just over time as we get more comfortable playing with each other … lots of people say it takes time to develop offensive chemistry but the defensive chemistry too is just as important,” Lindquist said.

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The best illustration of the Huskies total-floor dominance this season may be their average margin of victory, which sits at an astounding 33.6 points per game.

By comparison, when the team won its only national championship in 2016, its average margin of victory during the regular season was 25 points per game.

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The players are doing their best to ignore the lopsided scores, instead using those situations to implement new plays or work on specific aspects of their game. That philosophy should help come playoff time.

“(When you’re facing) harder competition, it becomes who you can hold more than how much more you can score, so defence is really important,” Epoch said.

If the trend continues the next thing the Huskies will be locking down is the number one seed in the conference

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