Big win moves Hawks up to No. 7 in CIS

(Photo by Heather Davidson)
(Photo by Heather Davidson)

The Wilfrid Laurier women’s basketball team refused to throw in the towel this past Saturday as they faced the McMaster Marauders. Despite being down for the majority of the game, the Hawks managed to edge out the Marauders 70-69.

“I was happy with our compete level, we made a bunch of mistakes but through hard work we found a way to win,” said head coach Paul Falco.

With that win, and an additional win earlier in the week against the 7-7 Brock Badgers, Laurier vaulted to No. 7 in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) top ten rankings on Tuesday.

This ranking is the best in the program’s history, after being ranked No. 9 for the weeks of Jan. 14 and Dec. 3, 2013.

“It’s obviously great for the program,” Falco said Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s nice for the girls and for the program, but the big thing for us is to keep our position and move up in the standings.

A play that optimized this compete level against McMaster on Saturday was made by fourth-year veteran centre Doreen Bonsu in the late stages of the game. After Bonsu missed her potential game tying shot, she drove the net, collected her own rebound and sank the second shot while being fouled. The basket was vital for the Hawks as it tied the game at 69 with 21.9 seconds left.

“It’s been huge having her back and healthy. She’s playing hard and playing well. She is an inspirational leader for us,” Falco said of Bonsu.

Bonsu was sidelined earlier in the season with continuous concussion symptoms from the 2012-13 year.

She returned to the Hawks in mid-November.

Laurier then went on to cap off the comeback thanks to to an ill-advised Marauder foul with 2.1 seconds on the clock that sent Laurier’s Lee Anna Osei to the line on the bonus.

Osei made one of two free throws to secure the win for the Hawks with minimal time left for McMaster to move up the court.

Throughout the game Laurier struggled to contain McMaster’s leading scorer Hailey Milligan who scored 34 points, and eclipsed the 1,000 point mark in her career against WLU. She now sits second in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) for points with 274.

“Number 12 [Milligan] is a great player, we needed to focus on her … but we just were not there defensively,” said Bonsu.

Nevertheless, Laurier’s offence countered with a balanced offensive attack as ten different players scored for the Golden Hawks.

Leading the way were fourth-year guard Laura Doyle and first-year guard Nicole Morrison who scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.

“It is definitely a confidence booster, but then again we see we won by one [point], so there is lots of work we still have to do,” said Bonsu.

Laurier won a close game against the Western Mustangs merely a week ago, when the Hawks edged out the visiting Mustangs 74-73.

The win sees Laurier hold on to their second place position in the OUA West division.

Falco acknowledges the challenges that come with keeping the mentality of a highly-ranked team focused, but believes the depth of his team will help in the upcoming weeks.

“It’s a concern as a coach that the girls might come out flat, but hopefully with the experience [we have], — we have a lot of fourth-year girls — some of them have been ranked in previous years and have experience with that,” he said.

“Hopefully they can help stay focused and realize what we do on the court is what we’re going to be known for.”

The Golden Hawks will look to continue to chase down the top spot in the OUA West division on Wednesday as they host the battle of Waterloo against the Waterloo Warriors.

Tipoff is 6 p.m. at the Athletic Complex.

–With files from Shelby Blackley 

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