Photo By: Jonah Dayton

The Badgers’ women’s basketball team capped off the first half of the OUA season with a pair of wins over the Guelph Gryphons to improve to a perfect 7-0 heading into the holiday break. 

Last Wednesday saw Brock cruise to a 78-52 win in what was a very balanced attack for the Badgers that saw 10 players play double-digit minutes. Sam Keltos stuffed the stat sheet yet again, putting up 17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks, Victoria Lawrence added 14 and four, Mackenzie Robinson finished with 8-9-5, while Ivana Twumasi tacked on 11 and three. 

The Badgers finished with 25 assists in the game, continuing a trend of exposing opponents’ aggression in the backcourt and sharing the ball in transition. 

“Honestly, we look our best when we share the ball,” said Twumasi. “I feel like when all five people on the floor touch the ball, like we look amazing, we’re unstoppable.”

Guelph had set up a little halfcourt trap which caused some minor issues in the first half, but the Badgers solved it by the start of the second and were off and running after that.

“It did cause a little bit of a problem, but not a lot,” said head coach Mike Rao. “I mean we’ve worked on it, but we just panicked [in the first half]. Second half we kind of figured it out and then it was okay.”

Leading the charge up the court is often Twumasi, who continues to attack the rim with force, drawing the help towards her and freeing up teammates for open shots in the process. Rao says her ability to contract the defence does wonders for Brock’s perimeter shooters.

“I feel like my ability to get to the rim creates opportunities for my teammates to score because I’ll find the right pass and make the right play,” said Twumasi. “[That] ability just gets my teammates open.”

Twumasi’s chemistry with Keltos on both ends of the floor has been one of many bright spots for Brock in the first half of the season; Twumasi can afford to be aggressive on defence knowing that Keltos and her shot-blocking abilities are behind her lurking the paint. Offensively, the threat they pose as a pick-and-roll combo is deadly. Twumasi’s finishing ability is second to none, so you can’t let her get a head of steam, while Keltos’ size makes it so tough to contest her down low. Both are excellent shooters from both the midrange and three that you can’t cheat by going under screens either. Keltos, at 6’3, is shooting better than 40 per cent from deep.

“I’ve never actually played with a real big so it’s great to have that size,” said Twumasi. “I don’t really consider Sam a big, though, because her perimeter game is great for her size. I feel like we both work well together on the pick-and-roll — we’re a good duo.”

The Badgers then travelled to Guelph to close out 2021 in what was far and away their closest game of the season. Brock picked up the 75-67 win thanks to a huge 29-point fourth quarter, 15 of which came solely from Victoria Lawrence.

Mackenzie Robinson played 39 out of 40 minutes in this one, tallying 15-7-4, while Keltos added 13 and eight, blocked three shots, but shot just 4-12. Jenneke Pilling had 13 points, but turned the ball over seven times. Reece Mungar led the way for the Gryphons with a game-high 21 points off 9-14 shooting.

Another recent trend for the Badgers has been the increased minutes of rookie wing Kaley DeMont, who has played double-digit minutes in each of the last two games, and racked up four rebounds, four assists, and four steals in 17 minutes in Wednesday’s game against Guelph. Rao says her role is likely to increase moving forward as part of the bench unit.

“A lot of positive things from her,” said Rao. “She’s been producing, she’s smart, she handles the ball well, she D’s it up enough, I mean I see her minutes improving, she’s doing well.”

The Badgers head into the new year as the no. 4 team in the country and are the highest-ranked OUA team. They sit atop the OUA West at 7-0, and will return to action on Jan. 14 in Waterloo to take on the Warriors. They’ll return home on Jan. 15, also against Waterloo, to kick off a four-game homestand that’ll also see the Algoma Thunderbirds swing by for a pair. Tickets don’t go on sale for a while, but you can find them here for all future home games.