Third quarter offence the difference for Hawks’ future success

SHELBY BLACKLEY/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

SHELBY BLACKLEY/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

The Wilfrid Laurier women’s basketball team are a strong third quarter team. When the Hawks start the second half, they either build enough momentum that they bury their opponents or lose control of it and come up short.

This season thus far, the Hawks have scored 179 of their 612 points in the third quarter and sometimes it’s enough to maintain momentum going into the final quarter.

But momentum is finicky and can be lost as quickly as it is claimed. The Hawks have scored 153 points in the final quarter over nine regular season games and even then, momentum remains uncontrollable.

And so, with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter and a comfortable nine-point lead over the Brock Badgers Wednesday night, the sound of drums suddenly echoed in the Athletic Complex. A sea of red marched into the gymnasium, bringing a wave of momentum with them.

The Brock fan bus arrived.

“It was lucky that it was a stop play and all of a sudden I just heard this big noise and I turn and just see a stream of people,” fourth-year guard Kaitlyn Schenck said.

“What our coaches really emphasize is just focusing what’s on the court, so immediately tune it out and to just try and play your game.”

And just like that, momentum began its magic. The Badgers played with renewed energy, and in a game that was already tight defensively became even more difficult.

For Schenck and the Hawks, making defensive stops is a method they use to maintain momentum.

And they received the same medicine.

Whenever a Hawk found a lane in the paint, three Badgers immediately flocked to close it.

“When you saw a lane it was almost shocking,” she said. “You just went in and tried to finish as best as you could.”

Momentum shifted back when Courtney Bruce put an end to the Badger’s final push.

And with 29 seconds remaining, Nicole Morrison drained three of her 15 points to halt Brock’s comeback bid with an unreachable seven-point lead, eventually winning 57-51.

The Hawks held on, but it wasn’t pretty.

Head coach Paul Falco said the girls did well in keeping their composure when the Brock fan bus came and closed it out, but still got a little bit rattled when the sea of red arrived. Nonetheless, it was still a good atmosphere to play in.

“Quite an environment there, especially in the second half,” Falco said. “A bunch of Brock fans and our crowd got a little louder as well. It was a good environment for the girls to play in.”

Schenck said controlling the tempo of the game depends on the kind of team they play.

With transitional teams like Brock, it’s more important to slow the game down.

Point guards Morrison and Amanda Milanis judge the situation to determine the tempo of the game and refocus the Hawks when shots aren’t dropping or when Laurier is getting frantic.

But Falco believes the Hawks’ third quarter success is the result of adjustments and bringing a ton of energy back into the gym after a small break.

Momentum is all about how the quarters are closed, which Falco thinks the Hawks need to improve on.

“At the end of the quarters we gave up some easy baskets,” he said.

“But in the fourth quarter in the last couple minutes, we defended extremely well so we closed out that quarter a little better than the others. That was definitely a factor in the game.”

But the Hawks’ 18-point third quarter against the McMaster Marauders wasn’t enough to hold onto momentum Saturday afternoon, losing  81-62.

If the Hawks look to find success on the road against northern opponents Laurentian Voyageurs and Nipissing Lakers, they will need to find a way to keep putting points on the board as the second half heats up.

Especially in the third quarter.

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