Laurier Women’s Basketball Fall to Guelph in Tough Match

 The Laurier women’s basketball team hosted the Guelph Gryphons in their second and final meeting of the regular season. The Hawks entered the game with three losses and a single win after defeating the Toronto Varsity Blues, while Guelph was off to a perfect start in the season with two wins.

 Both teams faced off on Nov. 11 in Guelph where the Hawks fell 95-79. Despite the loss, the Hawks were shooting almost 48% from 3 point range and almost 44% from the field, while free throw shooting was at 59%. The depth of the Laurier bench showed with 39 points, and their defense turned to offense in 19 points off Guelph turnovers.

Returning to the court this season for Laurier is Janet Rose, who was sidelined last season with a torn ACL. “It means a lot [to come back]. I started playing basketball 10 years ago … my life has revolved around basketball. It’s a part of who I am. And when I got injured, I lost a part of [myself] … I worked my ass off for 12 months … I can see my rhythm coming back … It’s a huge weight off my shoulders.” Rose said.

            Third year guard Cassidy Hirtle represented the purple and gold with passion in the first matchup against Guelph, scoring 21 points in 29 minutes, two steals, and shooting 50% from three. Against Toronto the following day, Hirtle scored a career high 23 points to lead Laurier to the victory. Fellow third years Alexa Sawchuk and Dylan Mazzuchin made their presences known, Sawchuk totalled seven rebounds and Mazzuchin drained two out of three from distance in Guelph.

A different story unfolded in Waterloo. The Hawks struggled on both ends of the floor, unable to keep the Gryphons at bay as they ran away with the game, gaining an advantage midway through the first quarter, after a strong start by the Hawks after scoring three of their first three attempts. The missed shots and turnovers started adding up early, and eventually would define the rest of the game.

Guelph scored 21 consecutive points to beat Laurier’s opening 7-2 run, capitalizing from the 13 turnovers in the quarter. The Gryphon’s defense was able to keep Laurier to the outside of the court, testing the Hawks 3-point shooting skills, while displaying their own ability to control the rebounds and head to the basket. The home side remained stuck at seven points for five minutes before Janet Rose’s jumper was good for two points. The first quarter ended 23-14 for Guelph hoping to expand the nine point lead, while the Hawks remained determined to close the gap.

Laurier’s offensive struggles showed in the second quarter, unable to gain any momentum from a rather close first frame. Mazzuchin and first year Brittyn Graves took charge in the second, both making one three point shot each and combining for three points in the field. While both team’s percentages were nowhere near half, Guelph made all their free throws and were shooting collectively 38%, while the Hawks were 2-11 in three pointers and 3-21 from the field. Laurier was limited to only eight points the whole quarter. Guelph led by 22 going into the half.

The Hawks had a fast start to the third quarter, matching the eight point second quarter with eight points in four minutes. The defense for the Laurier squad remained stable with four blocks and four steals that would hand the Gryphons their lowest scoring quarter of the game at 14 points, while Laurier held on for 13 points of their own. The Gryphons led 58-35 after three.

Guelph would seal the deal by going on a 19-1 run to start the fourth quarter. The Hawks tallied no three pointers in the frame and would go 4-15 from the field, and 5-9 from the free throw line. Guelph secured their third victory 79-48, making this game the lowest scoring game of the season for the Hawks.

Coach Paul Falco said post game that the team has to “put this one behind us pretty quick … I think we have to learn from what we didn’t do well. We didn’t take care of the ball well.”

Hirtle, Graves, and Miranda Campbell led the team with eight points each and Hirtle and Mazzuchin recording five rebounds each.

Falco reflected on two of the team captains, Hirtle and Mazzuchin, “They are both bringing in leadership … [they help] get us organized on the floor. Dylan [Mazzuchin’s] … been playing good solid defense and giving us some rebounding … [Hirtle and Mazzuchin] are always a threat offensively … [they have] been our leaders.”

As for first year Graves, Falco said “she has been a great addition to the team this year”, and has been impressed with her willingness to learn.

The team goes on a trip up north to Thunder Bay to face the 0-4 Lakehead Timberwolves on Saturday Nov. 19.

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