It was a matchup that on paper looked like a one-sided for the visiting McMaster Marauders that came into the weekend ranked ninth in the country. What the numbers cannot take into account is how much better the Badgers team has played at home this season. This past Friday, the Brock Badgers women’s basketball team dropped their first decision at home in a spirited 70-61 loss at the Bob Davis Gymnasium.
The team did not come out in their best form to start the game, getting outscored in the first quarter by a margin of 21-10.
On defence, the ladies struggled with boxing out on rebound opportunities which proved deadly for McMaster. The Marauders would play four on the perimeter, so the Brock defenders would collapse after every shot crashing the nets for the rebound. If a Marauder secured the board, then there would be a shooter for a wide open catch-and-shoot look. In the first quarter alone, Brock surrendered four three-pointers.
They were also very sloppy with the ball, running into problems with the full-court press. Teammates were simply standing still as the inbounder desperately searched for an outlet pass, and would not work to break the press. They turned the ball over numerous times giving up easy transition points in a game where the margin of error was already slim. In the first half, Brock committed 19 turnovers, the same amount McMaster would have in the entire game.
The momentum changed partway through the second quarter as reigning OUA Player of the Week Hilary Hanaka had to leave the game with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Brock would battle back and tie the game just before halftime on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by junior guard Ana Sofia Rua.
Coming out of the locker rooms, some halftime regrouping and adjustments made a difference for an inspired Marauder team. Rookie Sarah Gates stepped up when her team needed her most, leading the team in scoring and rebounding, adding 17 points and 12 rebounds in just 19 minutes off the bench. With McMaster now able to score, after a horrid second quarter in which they only scored five points, they were better equipped on the defensive end and returned to the full-court press and implemented a zone defence, bringing back the same difficulties Brock experienced early in the first half.
When Brock was able to get their offense working and run some plays, they were then let down from some poor shooting and some tough-to-swallow misses on open looks. While Sofia Rua shot 5-for-11 from three-point range, including a buzzer beater at the end of each half, the rest of the team combined to shoot 0-for-13 from downtown.
Although Brock did make a run in the fourth quarter, coming within six points of McMaster with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Badgers would fold down the stretch. McMaster iced the game with some cold-blooded three-pointers, to disappoint a home crowd and team that was starting to believe.
“We had a good gameplan. As a young team, you have to be consistent, and we’re still working on that. If you take care of the ball more, which we’ve been working on all year, and once we have more possessions where we have the ball and we’re getting looks, then we’re going to win a game like that. That loss is on us. That’s a game we can win. They didn’t necessarily outplay us, and that’s the most important thing,” said head coach Ashley MacSporran.
The team will now shift focus to the upcoming weekend when they face Ottawa at the Bob Davis Gym before they drive up the 406 to the Meridian Centre for a clash against the top-ranked OUA team Carleton Ravens, who were fourth in the country in the last released rankings.
In terms of preparation, MacSporran will try some things to make sure the nerves don’t overwhelm her young team.
“We have a practice at the Meridian on Sunday. We are working on getting the rookies in there. We also have a shootaround on Saturday and we practice with music and everything. It’s an opportunity and that’s what’s great about it. We’ve proven we can play with the best.”