Volume 92, Issue 84
Tuesday, March 9, 1999
Rim out seals Mustangs' fate
© Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
By Ian Ross
Basketball is a game of inches and that is also how close the Western women's basketball team came from winning the Ontario University Athletics West division championship.
Western, the top seed in the tournament, fell to the McMaster Marauders 74-69 in overtime at Alumni Hall on Saturday afternoon.
It was a game which could have gone either way with both teams forced to rally from behind on numerous occasions. However, when the final second ticked off the score clock it was the McMaster fans who rushed the floor to join their players in celebration. The Mustangs were left in tears.
A jubilant Theresa Burns, head coach of McMaster, struggled to find the right words to fit the occasion.
"This is a dream come true," she finally said. "We talked about this day at the beginning of the year. No one believed us outside our program but we believed we could do it. And we did it.
"It was the fight of our lives. It proved we won't lie down and die for anyone."
With the victory, Mac earned an invitation to the national championship, while the Mustangs were left to ponder what went wrong.
"I think initially we were looking forward to the provincial title," said head coach Bob Delaney, referring to the slow start of his team. "I don't think what was happening sank in until half time."
Rallying from a 10 point deficit at the half, Western captured the lead with just over 11 minutes left in the title match-up. Co-captain and forward Jenn Haylor was handed the opportunity with seconds remaining to win the game with the score tied at 65. Her off-balance shot rang off the rim inches from victory sending the game into overtime.
"It was just a throw," Haylor explained. "If it had gone in it would have been luck."
McMaster dominated the extra frame by a count of 9-4 to eliminate the Mustangs.
"Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong," Delaney said. "One shot bouncing out of the rim can make or break a season."
Don Coleman, assistant coach for the Mustangs, pointed to Western's foul trouble as another contributing factor in the team's defeat. Haylor, forward Holli Clarkson, shooting guard Tricia Young and point guard Cindy Scott were each sitting on four fouls late in the game. Coleman said the situation left Western's biggest impact players limited on defence, in fear of fouling out of the game.
Haylor, a fifth-year veteran, playing in her last season with the team, was left in shock after watching a season of hard work slip away.
"We had it in the second half and we let it go," she said with glossy eyes.
Haylor and fellow co-captain Nadia Pezzolo now graduate from the program after five years and three trips to the Canadian championships.
In a losing cause, Young led the Mustangs with 18 points while Haylor finished the game with 17. For the Marauders, forward Sarah Cameron netted 21 points and was named a tournament all-star for her effort.
McMaster went on to capture the OUA title with a 69-54 victory over the Laurentian Lady Vees on Sunday afternoon in London. Both teams will head to Thunder Bay this weekend to face the nation's best.
On Friday, the Mustangs had defeated the Lakehead Nor'Westers in the division semifinal 74-57 to advance, while McMaster took care of Guelph 63-52.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999