In what was an action-packed weekend for Brock Badgers sports, the women’s basketball team finished with a 1-1 record, after a pair of blowouts against the Toronto Varsity Blues and the Ryerson Rams.
Neither result came as a shock to anyone, as the Blues sit second to last in the OUA East with a 1-6 record, while the Rams are the number one team in the league, boasting a perfect 7-0 record after Saturday night.
Friday night saw the best half of basketball the Badgers have played all season, holding UofT to just 21 points in the first 20 minutes, while keeping them to single digits in the second quarter.
“I think that defence is always our number one priority, we always want to lock down on defence because it always leads into our offence and sets the tone,” said second-year guard Kristin Gallant.
Speaking of offence, the Badgers lit up the Blues for a season-best 43 points in the first half, including 27 in the first quarter off 47.2 per cent shooting. Holding onto a comfortable 22 point lead heading into the third, head coach Mike Rao was able to give his reserves some minutes in the second half. Lauren Zonneveld scored on her first possession of the game, and the entire Badger bench was up on their feet cheering for their teammate.
“I think we were just excited because we knew it was a winnable game, we were ready to compete, and the bench has such good spirit all the time, whether the starters are on, or the bench is on the bench,” said Gallant. “I think that’s our main thing, it really helps our team.”
The trio of Gallant, Melissa Tatti and Courtney MacPherson accounted for nearly two thirds of the Badgers points, with Tatti leading the way with a near triple-double, recording 22 points, 10 assists and eight steals. Gallant added 13 points on an efficient five-of-six shooting, while MacPherson also scored 13, while grabbing nine rebounds and blocking two shots in a 74-50 win.
The Badgers had turned a 0-3 start into a 3-3 record, with Gallant crediting the teams preparation as an important factor.
“I think we came out ready a lot more, our pregame was a lot better, we don’t get in our heads as much, we don’t get too high, or too low, as coach would say,” said Gallant.
Saturday saw a much tougher opponent in the Ryerson Rams, and while the Badgers put up a fight, they were unable to upset a team that ranks second in the country, losing by a final of 81-55. The Badgers only trailed by three after the first quarter, but 13 unanswered Rams points midway through the second was enough to put the game out of reach.
Perhaps the Rams biggest advantage was their size, with the Rams smallest starter being the same height as the Badgers tallest (5’10). The ceremonial jump ball between the two captains saw 6’4 Sofia Paska tower over the 5’4 Melissa Tatti — an indication of what was to come, as the Rams threw a twin-towers look with Paska and 6’2 Bronwyn Williams for a majority of the game.
“We really have to hustle, we have to use the strengths that we have, and we don’t have height, so we really have to push them out of the key as much as we can. We practice rebounding a fair bit, so it’s something that we’ve worked on because we know we’re undersized, but we have to get better at it,” said fourth year wing Baelie Campbell.
While the boxscore will indicate to Paska having an average game (seven points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, 2-6 shooting), her impact was game-changing, as the Rams dominated the glass when Paska was on the floor. She drew multiple fouls from MacPherson, Sofia Croce and Jess Morris, and was able to kick the ball out of the post when the Badger defence routinely collapsed on her, setting up teammates for open threes.
“She gets open shots for other people just by being out there; she’s a great passer, has good vision and is willing to share it, and I think that’s what makes [Paska] one of the best forwards in the country,” said Rams head coach Carly Clarke.
MacPherson — who had the task of guarding Paska — took a flying elbow to the eye in the third, and was forced to leave the game.
The Rams showed why they are ranked number two in Canada, as the ball movement and unselfishness — lead by Paska — wore the Badger defence down, as shown by the number of open shots the Rams had.
“We want to move and share the ball a lot, that’s a key to what we’re doing. We had 21 assists on 27 field goal makes today, that’s a pretty good stat all around. We made some open threes today because they were doubling and collapsing on the post, and we just did a really nice job of moving the ball to find open players, and that was great to see,” said Clarke.
The Badgers head to Ottawa next weekend for a pair of tough games against the 5-1 Carleton Ravens, and the 5-1 Ottawa Gee-Gees.