Hawkin' up a scare: Women's basketball team rallies late in game
By Alan Russette
WATERLOO The Western women's basketball team successfully defended their undefeated record on the road Saturday against the Laurier Golden Hawks with a 89-49 victory.
Although the end result was lopsided in the Mustangs' favour, the gutsy play of the Golden Hawks made the game interesting in the first half. Western's aggressive full-court press forced 17 turnovers, but lacklustre shooting, 12 of 40 from the field, allowed Laurier to stay in the game. The lead changed hands four times in the half and the Mustangs only led by a slim 34-31 margin at the break.
However, the Mustangs returned to the form that brought them the third-place ranking in the country, emerging from the locker room with a better focus and aggressiveness dashing any Laurier hopes of an upset in the process. Head coach Bob Delaney adjusted the lineup going into the second half, opting to start third-year forward Tina Poldervaart and rookie guard Tricia Young in place of starters Nadia Pezzolo and Cindy Scott.
"I wasn't very pleased with Pezzolo and with Scott in starting the game, so we went with Tricia Young and Tina Poldervaart who both played a strong first half. And I think that kind of shook the other people up," Delaney said. "And much to the credit of Nadia and Scotty, when they went back in the game they were refocused and ready to play and they had an outstanding second half."
Delaney attributed part of the early Hawk success to good preparation and the return of key players to their starting lineup. "Since the last time we played them they got Brenda Vrkljan back, who's probably their emotional leader on the floor," he said. "They were well prepared to play us in the first half, but our feeling is that they're not in the kind of physical condition that we are."
The Mustangs improved in their second-half revival, dominating both the offensive and defensive boards, making steals and remarkably only turning the ball over three times. Mustang co-captain Jenn Haylor put in one of her best offensive performances of the regular season, leading all scorers with 18 points and making eight steals.
"We were a totally different team in the second half than we were in the first," Haylor said. "It was a really physical first half and I don't think we were ready for that. We knew we had to step up our play and get more physical under the rim."
Laurier head coach Sue Lindley felt her team lost its focus in the second half, making poor decisions and telegraphing passes under the Mustang press. She also believed that conditioning and the depth of the Mustang bench was significant.
"Western stepped up their pressure and we just came out flat in the second half," Lindley said. "Western got really physical and tough and we didn't tough it out with them and kind of folded instead of responding to their aggressiveness."
The Mustangs return home for their next game this Wednesday against Guelph at 6 p.m. in Alumni Hall.