For the first time since November 1, 2013, the Badgers’ women’s basketball team was able to defeat the Ryerson Rams, winning by a final of 68-58. The Badgers opened up their season against a Rams team that beat them by 26 points last season; clearly the offseason work put in by head coach Mike Rao and his staff paid off.
Rao elected to start off with Melissa Tatti and Kristin Gallant in the backcourt, along with Jessica Morris, Sam Keltos and Eden Ferraro up front. In her second season, Ferraro, who played sporadically last year, came out of the gates hot, scoring 10 points off 5-5 shooting in the first quarter.
“Yeah she came out of nowhere,” said Rao. “She’s going to be a player. She’s just learning but believe me, she’s going to be a player this year.”
Sam Keltos was one of five players to make her Badger debut on Saturday and the 6’3 forward finished with a 10 point, 13 rebound double-double playing for her hometown team. Kyanna Thompson hit a pair of threes off the bench, scoring six points in just six minutes of action.
All five Badger starters scored in double figures, led by the play of fifth-year point guard Melissa Tatti. In her final home opener, Tatti led the way with 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals while playing all 40 minutes. Kristin Gallant had a bit of a rough shooting night (1-10 FG), but managed to knock down nine free throws to add 11 points and five boards. Jessica Morris added 12 points and three steals.
The Badgers looked like a completely different team than they did last year; they were more confident, they shared the ball a lot more and looked like they were having a lot more fun on the court.
“We’ve been together for a little while now and the girls were just great,” said Rao. “The fans were super tonight, but the kids just gave us a lot of effort tonight. We defended extremely well so I’m happy with that, we stayed on the defensive boards with [Ryerson] which was a key for us. Just a superb effort.”
The Badgers did struggle a bit from deep, hitting just six of their 30 three-point attempts (Ryerson shot 6-29 from three as well so a bit of a rock fight from outside all around), but did manage to get to the line 20 times, making good on 16 of them. Getting to the line will be crucial for the Badgers especially when the three ball isn’t falling.
There have been a number of structural changes made by the OUA ahead of this season, most notably the new divisional format. As opposed to having two divisions (East and West), like they have for the past two seasons, the OUA has instead added a third division, the Central. Having been in the West division for the past two years, Brock now finds themselves sharing the new OUA Central with Ryerson, Toronto, York, Lakehead and McMaster. Each team will play every divisional opponent twice.
The Badgers return to the court tomorrow night to face the defending provincial and national champions, the McMaster Marauders at 6:00 p.m. in the Bob Davis Gym. Free student tickets are available at gobadgers.ca or brocku.universitytickets.ca.