The 2018-19 Brock Badgers women’s basketball season came to an end on February 23, after a 81-70 loss to the McMaster Marauders in the second round of the OUA playoffs. The Badgers were in the game right up until the end, as they only trailed the first-seeded Marauders by three heading into the fourth quarter.
Brock had cut the lead to one on numerous occasions in the fourth, but a late 16-3 run by Mac sealed the Badgers fate. Melissa Tatti, Kristin Gallant and Jessica Morris combined for 50 of the Badgers 70 points, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to upset a talented Mac team that is ranked third in the country.
The Marauders were led by Sarah Gates’ 28 points and eight rebounds, including five-of-10 shooting from three. McMaster had four other players score in double figures, and as a team managed to shoot 50 per cent from three.
While the loss is disappointing, the Badgers did manage to win their first-round matchup against the Laurier Golden Hawks, handing them a 54-35 loss that saw the Badgers hold the Hawks to just 10 second-half points, including a mere three in the fourth quarter. Courtney McPherson had an efficient night for the Badgers, recording 14 points on seven-of-nine shooting, while grabbing nine rebounds to go along with two steals and a block, all in just 25 minutes of work.
The win was significant as not only was it head coach Mike Rao’s first career OUA playoff win, but also the first time the Badgers have won a playoff game since they beat the very same Golden Hawks back in 2012.
Considering the chaotic year that was the Badgers 2017-18 season (6-18, missed the playoffs and the parting with head coach Ashley MacSporran), the job done by Rao and his staff to bring the Badgers back into relevancy was an incredibly impressive one — especially in just his first year at the helm. The Badgers nearly doubled their regular season win total, and were able to end their streak of five consecutive first round exits in the process. It was a quick turnaround for a program that has been used to making the playoffs year in and year out.
Undoubtedly, the return of Tatti was instrumental to the Badgers success this season, as she finished the year third in the OUA in scoring with 16.2 points per game, second in assists with 4.5 per game and led the league in steals with 4.1. Tatti will without question be named an All-Star on Thursday when the OUA announces all major awards for this past season. Gallant improved on a terrific rookie season by further establishing herself as a two-way threat who, alongside Tatti, make for a dangerous backcourt pairing.
While the Badgers season is now officially over, the OUA playoffs are still in full swing. With the win on Saturday, McMaster is off to the semifinals and will face the two-time reigning OUA champion Carleton Ravens. The other semi-final matchup will see the Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Lakehead Thunderwolves, with the winner of each game advancing to the finals.