McMaster gets the better of Brock Basketball at the Meridian Centre

The atmosphere made up for the end results that led to a couple losses as Brock Basketball was welcomed back to the Meridian Centre for the second time in three months on Wednesday night. A crowd of 2,673 people slowly filled into the St. Catharines arena for two games that were to have huge implications on the OUA playoffs.

It was a rivalry that’s created buzz for the last three weeks, as the McMaster Marauders visited the Badgers for an OUA Central division match-up. Brock Women’s Basketball came in fighting for second place in their division, with the Marauders having already clinched first. However, for the Men’s game the Badgers knew the division rights were on the line with both teams coming in with a 12-5 record.

The Marauders would eventually steal both games, as the Badgers now fall to a combined 2-2 at the Meridian Centre. Brock Women lost 83-73 and the Men fell 80-69 at the hands of the Marauders.

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“Our goal isn’t so much to reward us, but to reward our fans,” said Brock Women’s head coach Si Khounviseth. “We want to be able to say, ‘thank you for all the support’ and give them a home playoff game.”

With the OUA playoff seedings ranked by RPI (Rating Percentage Index), the women Badgers came into the game versus the Marauders as the eighth seed, which would give them a home playoff game. However, after the loss, the Women fell to ninth behind division opponent Guelph.

To earn a home playoff game the Women will have to travel to Guelph for the final game of the season and pick up a win. This final season game will decide the final outcome when it comes to the Badgers upcoming playoff run. If the Gryphons win on Feb.27, the Badgers will have to travel back to Guelph for a first round playoff match-up. If the Badgers win, the Gryphons will be welcomed to the Bob Davis Gymnasium.

“We are comfortable playing anywhere,” said Khounviseth. “We are confident we can play on the road, like shown on our record.”

In terms of Wednesday night, the Badgers were without two of their five starters as Melissa Tatti and Kate Harpur sat with injuries. Both are expected to return in time for the playoffs next week.

“The message we’ve been sending [our team] is you need to be ready when your numbers called,” said Khounviseth. “Somebody needed to [fill the void], but it can’t be one or two players.”

Tatti and Harpur on average combine for 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Badgers. Khounviseth believes his entire team stepped up to fill those missing stats against the Marauders, but a couple breakdowns defensively left the Badgers in a hole.

Kira Cornelissen led the Badgers with 20 points and eight rebounds and point guard Jenalyn Yumol pitched in with 19 points and eight assists. Kayla Santilli also stuffed the box scores as she had nine points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

The Badgers were also able to hold the OUA’s third best scorer to seven points, as the Marauders Danielle Boiago shot two for seven for the night.

“In 35 minutes we took away their key player,” said Khounviseth. “The difference was [players] we didn’t expect to make shots on their team made shots.

Khounviseth and the Badgers will turn their attention to study film on the Gryphons as they prepare for Guelph. The coach would like to see his team’s performance be similar to what they showed versus the Marauders when they play the Gryphons.

For the Men, this might not be the final time the Badgers and Marauders see each other this year. The Badgers are guaranteed to host a first round playoff game, in which their opponents will most likely be Laurier. The winner of that game could end up travelling to Hamilton to play the Marauders in the second round.

“I think we are a better team than McMaster is, but we just didn’t play like it today,” said Brock head coach Charles Kissi. “We missed a lot of layups. Matt Marshall had four or five open layups, and you have to make your layups.”

The Badgers shot 35.3 per cent as a team compared to the Marauders 43.9 per cent. Along with missed layups, Kissi said his team gave up too many layups and they struggled on the offensive rebounds.

Dani Elgadi had more than half the Badgers points as he scored 36 points on 13 of 19 shooting and had 12 rebounds. He was also perfect from the free throw line, hitting all 10 foul shots. Johneil Simpson was the only other Badger who scored in double digits as he had 16 points.

The Badgers started the game leading the Marauders 20-17, but would lose the other three quarters. They were unable to hold the Marauders under 20 points in any quarter after the first.

“We have to fix what we have to fix [to improve], but at this point it’s not about growth,” said Kissi. “We’ve had all season to figure it out so now we have to start winning.”

Both Badger teams will turn their attention to their Feb. 27 game against Guelph, which will be the final game of the regular season. The Women’s game will tip-off at 6:00 p.m. and the Men’s game is at 8:00 p.m. in Guelph.

The OUA playoffs begin March 2, with Men’s Basketball hosting the likes of Laurier. The Women will know more of where they play to open the playoffs after their Saturday game, but it’ll most likely be versus the Gryphons.

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