Numbers cannot lie, but they can crush all hopes and dreams, and the Brock Badgers women’s basketball team has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this year after their loss to the Waterloo Warriors this past Saturday. It was their second straight game (and second straight loss) at the Physical Activities Complex (PAC), as they also lost 73-58 to the Laurier Golden Hawks last Wednesday.
The Golden Hawks were unable to play at their home gym and had to subsequently move the game to their arch-rivals home court. Brock saw this as an excellent opportunity to organize their second road trip of the season. Since Laurier had to play a home game away from home, Brock was ready to make sure it was a true away game by taking over the gym in a crucial game for the women’s team, that was chasing Laurier in the standings.
Kristin Gallant made her return to the starting lineup after fully recovering from a concussion but was rusty, scoring just 11 points on a tough 3-14 field goal shooting line. Center Courtney McPherson had a great game inside the paint, leading her team in scoring and rebounding, grabbing 16 boards and racking up 16 points going 7-15 from the field, while also adding in a block. However, the Badgers were unable to contain fifth-year guard Nicole Morrison which ultimately led to their demise.
“We held (Morrison) to six points in the first half,” said head coach Ashley MacSporran. “Our plan was to force her to go right and keep her out of the middle. In the second half, we weren’t able to do that. We lost her in transition and she hit a couple of shots. I’m disappointed that she went 5-10 (from three-point range) and we lost her a couple of times.”
After the loss to Laurier, Brock knew their only chance at still making the playoffs was to win out, so it was do-or-die in their return to the “PAC” in the short turnaround. Only a week removed from defeating the Waterloo Warriors by 27 points, they knew they were the favourites against the basement-dwelling Warriors. The Badgers came out inspired, jumping out to a quick 10-2 lead before a Warriors timeout. However, Waterloo remained pesky and Brock was never able to build upon that eight-point lead. Instead the game went back-and-forth and remained close throughout.
The Badgers’ scoring was centralized around Miranda Smith, Brooke Murdoch and Gallant who combined for 75 per cent of the team’s point. The Warriors relied heavily on senior forward Ann Stewart who, just like the previous week, led her team in scoring and was the only Warrior to hit double-digits in points.
Brock must be crushed with how their season came to an end as they had multiple chances at the end of the game. After Brooke Murdoch hit a three-pointer with 1:45 to go in regulation, the game was tied and Brock’s to lose. After that point, Brock would miss all three shots they would take (including a three-pointer by freshman Lauren Zonneveld to send it to overtime) and turnover the ball twice, failing to capitalize on five missed free throws by Waterloo in the last nine seconds.
Brock now sits four games behind both Laurier and Guelph for the last playoff spot with four games remaining. However, both Laurier and Guelph hold the tie-breakers over Brock so they can not pass either team anymore. Coach MacSporran and her staff will now have to shift focus to finishing off the season on a strong note as they take on some pretty tough teams in Lakehead, Western and Windsor.