The Badgers had an opportunity to compete with some of the best teams in the country this past week when the OUA-leading Western Mustangs came to town on Wednesday and the then sixth-ranked Windsor Lancers followed on Sunday.
Additionally, the team will be without second-year wing Meagan Charbonneau, who hurt her left knee in the Meridian Centre game, for the foreseeable future.
“I think she’s out for the rest of the year to tell you the truth,” said head coach Mike Rao. “I don’t know [if it’s an ACL] but it’s pretty bad.”
The Mustangs handed the Badgers just their second home loss of the season (third overall), winning by a score of 67-58 in what was a poor offensive night for the Badgers. Melissa Tatti was the only Badger who got into a good offensive rhythm, finishing with 20 points and five assists. Sam Keltos was the only other Badger to score in double figures (11), but did so on just 5-16 shooting.
“We weren’t moving the ball enough,” said Rao. “Not sharing the ball and we just got caught. Not enough team movement or team play. The ball stuck [in Tatti’s hands] and that was it.”
The Badgers had a couple of days to digest the loss before the Lancers came to town for Brock’s annual ‘Shoot for the Cure’ cancer awareness night. Or rather morning, as the Lancers’ team bus was delayed in the snowstorm on Saturday, causing the game to be pushed to 10:00 a.m. the following day.
Perhaps the early start was partially to blame, but the Badgers came out flat, especially on the offensive end. They scored just eight points in the first quarter and were held to under 20 in the first half.
“I don’t know [if the morning start] had something to do with it, we’ve had a lot of poor first quarters so I don’t know if it’s the morning, I don’t know if its the night. It’s just basketball I think,” said Rao.
Tatti, like the rest of her teammates, struggled in the first half, scoring just four points on one field goal, but came out firing in the second, scoring 20 in the half including a personal 9-0 run to end the third quarter. Her 24 points is a season-high. She is just 0.4 points back of the OUA scoring lead with 17 per game. Sam Keltos also had a big game, finishing with 12 points, 13 rebounds and blocked a career-high five shots.
“She was rim protecting,” said Rao. “She was a shot blocker today and she did a great job.”
Keltos also caused a massive nosebleed with a shoulder-to-the-face (it was deemed an offensive foul) and later absolutely pancaked Windsor’s Eve Uwayesu with a strong screen set late in the game.
The Badgers held Windsor to a ghastly 5-37 three-point shooting performance, including 2-21 in the second half. While the offence finally started to click in the third quarter, Rao attributes the win to the team’s defensive performance.
“I think we won it on the defensive end. Yeah, we made some shots, but there were four or five times where we stopped them on three straight possessions, so for us that’s huge.”