Lakehead sends 'Stangs a wake-up call
By Ian Ross
There are few phrases which can summarize what happened this past weekend to the Western women's basketball team, other than a good old fashion kick in the ass.
Ranked fifth in the country with high expectations for another banner season, the Mustangs came out flat Friday night against the Lakehead Lady Nor'Westers and paid the price, losing 76-66. Western rebounded the next afternoon after learning from their mistakes in a 63-53 victory for a split of the two game series at Alumni Hall.
"The key word is intensity," said Western head coach Bob Delaney. "We did a poor job [Friday] night finishing our plays but [Saturday] we dictated the floor."
What made the Friday game even more difficult for the Mustangs to swallow was the fact the Lakehead squad had arrived in London only hours before tip-off, with only seven players on their roster. Add to the mix Lady Nor'Westers captain Alicia Gunn, who abandoned the team two weeks ago and there was no question Lakehead was the underdog going into the weekend.
Western co-captain Jen Haylor commented on how the Mustangs not only failed to start the game with any emotion but never had an opportunity to get any momentum moving in their direction.
"I never felt like we got into a rhythm," Haylor said. "We wanted to push the ball and didn't do that well."
Lakehead head coach Stu Julius noted the physical condition of his players helped to combat the high tempo pace which Western failed to enforce during Friday night's game.
"Our kids are in good shape. With a small team, practice can be tough on them," Julius said.
Jody Euloth was the leading scorer for Lakehead with 26 points while Western's Jenn Haylor netted 18 points in a losing cause.
After walking off the hard court on Friday, the Mustangs were forced to re-evaluate their outlook on the season. The team met before game time on Saturday and re-focused on what they needed to do to win.
"We talked about individualism versus a team concept," Delaney said. "[Friday] was more like an individual effort from each player. We discussed this before the game and the players really took it to heart."
The Mustangs followed this game plan with precision. Four of the five starting players scored more than 10 points, while point guard Cindy Scott had nine. In contrast, Lakehead turned to centre Angela Hrkac for 27 points but failed to incorporate anyone else into their offensive attack.
With the weekend split, the Mustangs remain atop the Ontario West division with a 2-1 record.
Western will take a few weeks off before heading to Toronto from Dec. 28-30 and Waterloo Jan. 1-3. Both of these holiday exhibition tournaments should help fine tune the team for the rest of the season.