Hawks basketball split weekend

Photo by Zoe Nguyen

Photo by Zoe Nguyen

Wilfrid Laurier University women’s basketball opened their 2014-15 campaign by splitting their first two matchups of the season.

They fell to the Ryerson Rams on Friday night by a final score of 66-59 before picking up their first victory of the new season a day later against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues handily with a convincing 85-63 win.

The club opened the year with a shorthanded roster due to injury. They dressed only nine players on Friday and just eight on Saturday night. Most notably, fourth-year guard Courtney Bruce was inactive for both games.

The first game of the weekend saw Laurier’s veterans pick up the slack for the depleted roster in the loss. Fifth-year centre Whitney Ellenor muscled her way to a dominating 20 points and 17 rebounds on the day. She also stepped up on the defensive end, sending back five shots.

Third-year guard Kaitlyn Schenck also got going in the opener, dropping a total 17 points in the loss to Toronto.

The Hawks managed to bring the game within four points in the last two minutes, but were unable to climb all the way back.

A lack of depth and scoring by the rest of the team, combined with multiple key turnovers down the stretch, proved to be the deciding factors as the Hawks tried to complete the late game comeback.

“I just think it’s poor execution,” said head coach Paul Falco.

“I think the fast break is part of our game, transition is part of our game and we just didn’t execute. Maybe a bit of fatigue, we played some people a lot of minutes.”

Ellenor said she believes the club needs to learn to keep wstrong mentally in the latter stages of a close game.

“I think that the biggest thing for us is to just stay calm. I think when we try to do things a little too fast is when we create some unforced turnovers and stuff like that … as long as we can stay calm and composed at the end of the game, we’ll be good,” she said.

Saturday saw a much more balanced effort from Laurier against the Varsity Blues.

The Hawks had all eight of their dressed players put up points. This included double figures from Ellenor (12), Schenck (19), second-year guard Nicole Morrison (18) and second-year forward Alexandra Spadaro (14).

Morrison said she believes the balanced effort was due to a willingness to share the ball.

“I think we are really good at distributing the ball,” she said. “I think the important thing is that we trust each other with passing and shooting. No one really wants to be the superstar, we all want to take turns shooting the ball.”

The team’s main focus was containing the Blues fifth-year guard Jill Stratton.

The former Ontario University Athletics first team all-star put up 19 points in the first half alone, but only finished with 26 on Saturday evening.

Falco said he thought the team did a better job of containing Stratton in the second part of the game.

“In the first half I’m not sure what happened, but we fell asleep a couple times and you can’t do that,” he said.

“She is a great player, one of the best players in the conferences. She knows how to hurt you, and I thought we were more focused in the second half on not giving her the open looks.”

Laurier led by just seven after the first half, but 52 per cent shooting from the field in the second allowed them to widen the gap and come away with the 18-point win.

Looking forward, Falco said he wants to see the defensive effort improve as the season really starts to get going.

“I think we need to be more consistent defensively. That has got to be our bread and butter and if we do that then we can feed off of that defence and be a good transition team,” he said. “That’s what we need to work on and we’ll be doing that this week for sure.”

With the season still young, the club will head eastbound to Toronto and Kingston to take on the York Lions and Queens Golden Gaels this Friday and Saturday night respectively.

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