Losing the battle for first
A storied rivalry was renewed and intensified Saturday afternoon at the Athletic Complex.
Just over a month after the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s basketball team defeated the number one Windsor Lancers on their home soil, the Lancers came to Waterloo with a purpose, defeating the Hawks by a final score of 77-68.
“We knew it was going to be a battle. We knew beating them at home, they weren’t going to come back and take us lightly. They were going to come out for blood and that is exactly what they did,” said fifth-year centre Whitney Ellenor, who finished the game with 18 points, seven rebounds and five rejections.
The Lancers opened the game with a strong, crisp, refined brand of basketball that saw them shoot 54 per cent in the first quarter. Windsor guard Korissa Williams dropped in 18 of the team’s 30 points in that quarter.
The Golden Hawks were down by as many as 18 in the first half, but battled back with solid defensive play, forcing 20 turnovers on the day against a team that averages just 16 per game.
As the seconds ticked down in the first half, fifth-year guard Lee Anna Osei stole the Lancer inbound pass and laid in an easy basket, cutting the lead to eight heading into the break.
“I think we are a team that, when we play really great defence, our offence feeds off that. Just the fact that we finished with that play, I think we came out confident and we came out with a little more pep in our step on defence. It made the world of a difference,” she said.
The second half saw the Hawks get as close as one point, when they cut the lead to 52-51 in the third quarter behind strong play from their starters and some key bench play.
However, that is as close as the Hawks would get, as they were unable to take the lead or close the narrow gap that the Lancers held on to for the remainder of the game.
According to head coach Paul Falco, playing the Lancers just before the playoffs get underway is a great way for the club to get used the intensity of the games in the coming weeks.
“It was a good experience for us because we are now into the playoffs and every game is going to be intense like that, so it was good preparation,” he said.
With the win, the Lancers will now finish first in Ontario University Athletics and host the final four — an accolade that would have been Laurier’s had they come away victorious.
Before the Hawks can make their trip west to seek revenge, they must first get through the quarter final matchup which they will host this Saturday in Waterloo. They will face either the Laurentian Voyageurs or the Queen’s Golden Gaels. The squad narrowly escaped Kingston with a three-point win over the Gaels earlier in the season.
Falco said he believes the key factor in the coming weeks will be execution.
“We know that we can play with top teams. It’s going to come down to executing in the crunch so we still have a week of prep for quarterfinal. Whoever it is we are going to play we want to be ready to battle as hard as we can,” he said.
The Lancers have dominated women’s basketball in recent memory, capturing four straight national titles. However, the Hawks ability to play with them this year has Ellenor feeling optimistic in her final season at Laurier. She has her sights set on one game in particular.
“I can’t wait to play them again. Finals of OUA, we’re coming. We are going to go hard. We know exactly what we have to do and I think we showed tonight that we can play with them and we can beat them,” she said.