The Varsity Blues women’s basketball squad lost a nail-biter at the Athletic Centre to their OUA rivals the Brock Badgers last Friday night. After dominating play for most of the first half, the Blues went flat and relinquished their lead in the second, losing 61-56.
U of T came out firing against the Badgers and took an early 18-9 lead. The team’s strong ball movement and inside game, along with their suffocating defensive play, gave the 4-4 Blues the clear advantage over the 7-2 Badgers. But Brock would not go silently into the night, and simply wore down U of T’s speed and energy in the second half.
“We definitely came out strong in the first,” said third-year point guard Vanessa Nobrega, who led all players with 19 points. “But we didn’t adjust to their increasing intensity in the second half and our shots weren’t dropping.” Nobrega was the Blues’ workhorse on Friday, playing all 40 minutes and recording a double-double.
The Blues were tenacious on the glass, led by guards Rachel Franssen and Nobrega, who pulled down six and 10 rebounds respectively. U of T had an impressive field goal percentage of 46 in the first half and shot 50 per cent from the free throw line. In the second, things didn’t go so smashingly.
Brock showed its mettle early in the second stanza, sparked by the offensive play of forward Stacey Farr, who notched 15 points in the game. Adding to the Blues’ woes was their tendency to turn the ball over under pressure and their inefficiency at the free throw line. U of T shot just 37.5 per cent from the free throw line in the second half and had 20 turnovers in the game.
Blues head coach Michel Belanger was upset about her team’s inability to close out a game that was theirs for the taking. The Badgers cut the lead to one point halfway through the second before finishing off with some clutch three-pointers.
“I am very disappointed because we had a very poor game ending,” said Belanger. “We didn’t have any leadership, our forwards didn’t respond when needed, and we took poor shots down the stretch.”
Belanger stressed she expects nothing less than a spot in the OUA playoffs from her team, which won the championship last season, coincidentally, against Brock.
“The team is at a crossroad. They have to decide what direction they want the season to go and have to work their asses off…. It’s either that or lose,” Belanger said. “We keep losing and we have to realise that we’re running out of time.”
Nobrega, who is proving to be the team’s leader, said the Blues had to make a few minor adjustments to get on the right track again.
“We get a little overconfident sometimes and we have to stop that,” said Nobrega. “We have to work harder in practice and realize our strengths.”
U of T put the loss behind them last Saturday night, easily beating the Guelph Gryphons 78-59. The win puts the Blues back at the .500 mark and into playoff contention.
Photograph by Simon Turnbull