Cougars set to host the national women’s basketball championship

By Costa Maragos Posted: March 8, 2018 6:00 a.m.

Some members of the U of R Cougars Women’s Basketball team at their final pre-tournament practice.
Some members of the U of R Cougars Women’s Basketball team at their final pre-tournament practice. Photo by Costa Maragos - External Relations

The U of R’s version of March Madness is set for take-off and tip-off.

The Cougars Women’s Basketball team is hosting the Canadian University final 8 tournament, March 8 – 11.

The Cougars are seeded number two in Canada behind the Carlton Ravens from Ottawa

Game one in the single-knockout tournament is set for Thursday, March 8 at 6:00 p.m. at the main gym of the U of R’s Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport. The Cougars take on seventh-seeded Laval.

Cougars Celebrate
The Cougars won the Canada West Final with a win over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies March 2. Arthur Images
“I’m really excited because it’s my last year and finishing it off at home is pretty much a blessing,” says Caitlin Zacharias, a fifth-year guard.

It’s been a busy week for Zacharias. As a fourth-year Education student, she started her pre-internship this week at LeBoldus High School in Regina, but her thoughts are about the games this weekend and her special U of R basketball experience.  

“I’ve built a lot of good relationships and good friendships here and I’m blessed to be a part of such a good team,” says Zacharias, who grew up in Regina and graduated from Riffel High School. “I’ve gotten to go to so many different places. It has been a great experience here.”

It has been a magical season for the Cougars. The team finished first in the west with 18 wins and two losses. They defeated the University of Saskatchewan Huskies to win the Canada West Championship, its third in program history.

At one point during the season, the Cougars were seeded first in Canada. Hosting the tournament is a big bonus.

“We’re obviously excited. It’s really nice to play in front of a home crowd,” says Dave Taylor, the head coach.

This is the third time in 10 years the U of R has hosted the nationals.

“That says something about our facilities, the support we get from this community, and our strong program,” says Taylor, who has been the Cougars head coach for 12 years. “Anytime we can put on a national event it says something about the U of R. We’re punching above our weight, so to speak.”

The team has flourished under Taylor’s leadership. The Cougars have appeared in five of the past eight national championship tournaments and he is the program’s all-time leader in conference and postseason victories.

He was also the assistant Cougars coach when the team won its only national championship in 2001.

Here are the teams competing as they are seeded.

1.    Carlton Ravens
2.    U of R Cougars
3.    Acadia Axewomen
4.    McGill Martlets
5.    McMaster Marauders
6.    U of S Huskies
7.    Laval Rouge et Or
8.    Calgary Dinos