Women’s basketball clinches playoff spot

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The Brock Badgers women’s basketball team capped off their final home games of the 2018-19 season on a positive note, as a pair of wins over Waterloo and Western earned them a spot in the playoffs. The Badgers currently sit at 11-11 with just two games left in the regular season, both of which will be played on the road against the 18-4 Lakehead.

The 74-47 win over Waterloo saw the Badgers play one of their best quarters of the season, winning the first quarter 28-9 thanks to three three-pointers from Miranda Smith. The Badgers were able to rest their starters for most of the second half, as all 12 active players played double-digit minutes.

“They played hard,” head coach Mike Rao said on his reserves. “There was a lot of good effort, and that’s all we preach, effort.”

As a team, the Badgers shot 44 per cent from deep, with Smith and Kristin Gallant combining to shoot five-of-five from three.

“We moved the ball, we put it inside and came back outside so that opens up a lot of space on the perimeter,” said Rao.

Saturday night saw the final home game of the regular season, and for seniors Courtney McPherson and Allie Columbus, this marked their final regular season home game as Badgers. McPherson played two seasons as a Badger, and was named the women’s basketball team MVP during the 2017-18 season. Columbus spent four seasons here at Brock — and after missing all of last year due to a torn ACL — has bounced back to be a high-energy player.

“[McPherson’s] been really good for us, she’s one of our impact players,” said Rao. “[Columbus] is a spark plug, a good defensive player, so we’re going to miss her as well.”

Rao gave Columbus the start for her final game on Saturday, and alongside McPherson, was given a pre-game tribute to thank them for their years as a Badger.

The game itself started a bit sloppy for the Badgers, but they were able to turn things around quickly as they cruised to a 66-37 win. The trio of Melissa Tatti, Kristin Gallant and Baelie Campbell outscored the entire Mustang team 40-37.

“I don’t think it really all sunk in yet,” said Columbus after the game. “It’s bittersweet to be honest, it’ll hit me later, but it felt really good to be out, and be able to finish after all the stuff that I’ve gone through over the years, and to be able to play and finish my season and career off very well.”

No matter the outcomes of the final two games against Lakehead, the Badgers are locked into the number four seed in the OUA West. Their first-round opponent, however, has yet to be decided between Guelph or Laurier. Both teams currently sit at 8-14, and each team will play two more games before seasons’ end.

Fittingly, the final game of the regular season will see Guelph and Laurier decide who gets to play Brock in round one. Brock will most likely play Laurier, as Guelph still has to play first-place McMaster, while Laurier gets to play last-place Waterloo prior to their matchup.

The only way Brock will play Guelph in round one – assuming Guelph loses to McMaster and Laurier beats Waterloo — is if they beat Laurier by double-digits (due to tiebreaker rules). This would technically be favourable to Brock, as they split the season series with the Golden Hawks while getting swept by Guelph, but the reality is, it shouldn’t matter.

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