The Varsity Blues women’s basketball team fell 68–54 to the visiting Brock Badgers on Saturday, in their last game of 2012.
The Blues fought hard, but were outmatched by the Badgers, who they have been unable to beat since 2004.
The game was their second loss of the weekend, following a 64–56 defeat to McMaster on Friday night. Despite swings in momentum, McMaster retained an early lead throughout the contest. The Blues were able to bring the game to within four points of the Marauders at the end of the fourth quarter, but fell short of the victory.
Brock came into Saturday’s game with a perfect 6–0 record, in comparison with the Blues’ record of 4–3.
Blues forward Julie Longauer, who notched 21 points and six rebounds on the night, said that Brock’s intimidating record didn’t change Toronto’s strategy. “We don’t talk about their wins or losses, we just treat it like any other team, and we just have to go out and play our hardest.”
The Blues started the game strong, with a steal by Longauer resulting in the first basket of the contest. Toronto’s defense was solid and created turnovers and scoring opportunities for the Blues, but their shots just weren’t falling. Brock wasn’t having any problems hitting the basket and they quickly took the lead from the Blues.
There was physical play from both teams throughout the game. At one point the score climbed to 16–4 for Brock and the foul count was at 5–0 for Toronto, with Blues head coach Michele Belanger being called for a technical foul after protesting a call. This seemed to temporarily motivate the Blues, as they worked noticeably harder on both ends of the floor, and managed to shrink the deficit to five points going into the second quarter.
Unfortunately for Toronto, that was as close as they would get to the Badgers. Throughout the rest of the first half, Brock played hard and converted on their opportunities, while their defense prevented the Blues from closing the scoring gap.
By halftime, the Blues’ shooting percentages were dismal, with a field goal percentage of just 29 per cent, and a free throw percentage of 30 per cent. The Badgers led 35–21 going into the second half.
The third quarter was more of the same, with Brock continuing their strong play on both ends of the floor. The Blues were working hard, but were committing unforced errors, making bad passes, and missing shots. Toronto continued to struggle with their free throw shooting, while Brock was able to take advantage of their own foul shot opportunities.
Early in the fourth quarter the scoring margin widened to 29 points, but the Blues battled back. Longauer and teammates Liane Bailey and Jasmine Lewin, spurred Toronto forward, fighting for rebounds and working to create opportunities. Toronto outscored Brock 21–10 in the quarter, to finish the game at 68–54 for Brock.
“We hustled when the game was out of hand,” said Belanger. “We decided to play with energy and more heart. And I’ve got to be happy that they’ve done that, but I’m also disappointed that they waited that long to do it.
“Hopefully we can take that forward into the new year. We just need to find some feeling and get the passion back into the game, and the pride.”
It was a disappointing weekend for Toronto, who started their season off strong with a four game winning streak, and have now lost their fourth game in a row.
“We didn’t bring the same amount of energy as we did in the first four games, in these last four games. I don’t think we were playing together as a team,” said Lewin, who was named Blues’ player of the game, and had 14 points and 10 rebounds on the night.
“In practice we’re really intense, trying to get back into the zone so that we can get some more wins, but, I don’t know, we got out there and everything just wasn’t flowing, we didn’t come together as a team to get things done,” said Longauer.
Some of the issues that the team is having may be a result of an injury to OUA All-Star Jill Stratton, which has prevented her from playing for the Blues since Thanksgiving.
“I think that [Stratton’s] injuries do play a part,” said Belanger. “When we start to lose some games, [the players] have this sense that there’s somebody missing. They’re waiting for a messiah to show up, to save them, and we were just talking about that… Jill is one piece of the puzzle, she is not the puzzle.”
Over the break, Belanger says, “We’re going to be working on everything you can think about.”