Photo By: Dan Dakin

The Badgers’ women’s basketball team’s season came to an end this past weekend with a fourth-place finish at the U Sports Final 8 national tournament in Kingston. 

The Badgers began their weekend with an 85-74 quarterfinal win over Acadia on Friday that saw Ivana Twumasi lead the way with 20 points, Maddy Weinert tack on 18 and 15 rebounds, and Victoria Lawrence finish with 15-6-7 and six steals.

That set up a much-anticipated rematch with the Ryerson Rams, who came back from a 22-point fourth quarter deficit to beat Brock on their home court in the OUA championship game last weekend. 

For the second straight game, the Badgers and Rams headed to overtime with a trip to the national championship game on the line. For Brock, a win would mean a second straight appearance in the national championship game; for the Rams, a chance to cap off a perfect season.

The Rams dominated the extra frame, outscoring the Badgers 10-2 en route to the 64-56 win to advance to the finals. The Rams were once again led by their floor general, Jama Bin-Edward, who put up 17-7-8 including scoring seven in OT.

And so the Badgers were headed to the bronze medal game against the hosting Queen’s Gaels, who ultimately delivered a medal in front of their home fans with a 75-57 win, placing Brock fourth in the country in the process.

The Rams, meanwhile, would go on to trounce the Winnipeg Wesman in the finals to complete The Perfect Season: 4-0 in the preseason, 14-0 in the regular season, 3-0 in the OUA playoffs, 3-0 in the U Sports playoffs, a provincial championship, and now, a national championship, the latter of which is the first in program history.

Despite the fourth-place finish, the Badgers had another incredible season; they were ranked as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time in program history this year, and took the same Rams team that did that to the brink of elimination twice, all while missing their best player. If Sam Keltos had been playing, it very well could have been a much different story.

Looking ahead, however, this is a relatively young roster that should continue this recent stretch of program excellence led by head coach Mike Rao. They’re losing two starters in the graduating Mackenzie Robinson and Jenneke Pilling, but should still be able to roll out Twumasi and Lawrence as a heck of a two-way backcourt next season. Rookie wing Kaley DeMont showed some incredible promise in her first year as a lethal shooter, Madison MacInnis got more and more minutes as the season progressed, but the play of first-year forward Maddy Weinert is really the headliner as far as the future of the program is concerned. 

The OUA West All-Rookie member was one of the most integral pieces of this year’s team, starting every single game as a first-year who plays like a fifth. She is absolutely not afraid of big moments, averaging 15 and 11 in the OUA playoffs this year including that ridonkulous 25-point, 17-rebound, five-block effort in the finals against the Rams. Knowing she’ll be around for years to come is good news for Rao and his staff, who you can bet will bring in some outside firepower with a new class of recruits. 

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