Win over Guelph crucial

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The Laurier Golden Hawks women’s basketball team had an unkind welcome to 2013.

With two of their first three games of the new year coming against the 11-0, defending Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) champion Windsor Lancers, it was no surprise they were looking to get back on track Saturday versus the Guelph Gryphons.

And that’s just what they did.

The Hawks won 79-49, riding a balanced scoring attack that saw 15 points off the bench from fourth-year Alena Luciani, 14 from veteran Kim Yeldon and 12 from newcomer Lee Anna Osei.

The win marked the team’s highest point total — and by far their the biggest win in terms of point differential — all season.

“It was a big win for us based on the standings,” said Laurier head coach Paul Falco. “With how tight everyone is in the middle of the pack it was huge to get a win over Guelph who we came into that game tied with.”

When Falco says the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West standings are tight, he’s not kidding. Outside of 11-0 Windsor and Brock, three teams — Lakehead, Laurier and McMaster — sit at 5-6, with Western just ahead at 6-5 and Guelph just behind at 4-7.

The Waterloo Warriors are in last in the division at 0-11.

With Saturday’s game marking the halfway point of the 21-game season, Falco knows the stretch drive will be tight.

“We need to be improving week by week,” he said. “If we can play our best basketball these last six weeks of the season it should set us up pretty well for the playoffs.”

Falco has never missed the playoffs since coming to Laurier in 2008, posting the best season in school history in 2010-11, finishing fifth in Canada.

Currently, the Hawks occupy the sixth and final playoff spot in the OUA West standings.

However, with the tightness of the standings, even Wednesday night’s game against the basement-dwelling Warriors becomes key.

“It’s pretty easy for us to avoid looking too far ahead,” said Falco. “I think we learned from the first term that every game’s going to be a battle for us, no matter what the other team’s record is.”

Not looking too far ahead seems like a good idea for the Hawks considering what lies ahead after their date with the Warriors.

On Saturday, Laurier will travel to St. Catharines to take on the undefeated Brock Badgers. Game time for Wednesday is 6 p.m. while Saturday’s game tips off at 1 p.m.

Laurier’s road trip continues the following weekend when they travel to Thunder Bay for a pair of games against the Lakehead Thunderwolves before returning home Jan. 30 to play the McMaster Marauders.

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