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Gryphons can't be beat
Undefeated Guelph still leads OUA West
By Joel Brown
GUELPH No matter how hard they try Western's women's basketball team just cannot seem to get past the Guelph Gryphons.
The battle between the top two teams in the Ontario University Athletics West division went in favour of the first-place Gryphons Saturdays with a score of 55-51. It leaves Guelph with a 15-0 record this season, and drops Western to 10-4.
Western forward Holly Clarkson made a basket with 1:38 left in the game to pull the Mustangs within three points. However, Western was unable to execute down the stretch and Guelph came away with a four-point victory.
This is the second time Western has been 'close, but no cigar' against Guelph, as they fell 76-74 in a previous match.
"We're still confident we can beat this team," said Western head coach, Bob Delaney. "We'll get to them sometime. It's hard to imagine they can beat us four or five times in a season."
The Mustangs took an early lead to begin the game, leading by as many as nine points halfway through the first-half. Led by the play of point guard Pat Marcello, Guelph then proceeded to go on a 17-5 run and took a 32-29 lead into halftime.
"The turning point for them was when we went to our subs," Delaney said. "They didn't pressure on defence, they made too many mistakes. Our offence became stagnant because they just stood around. They just didn't know where they were going."
Guelph's defence was then unable to rise to the occasion, maintaining the lead despite many turnovers and missed shots. Mustang forward Laura Verbeeten, who had a 32-point performance against Laurier last week, was held to just 12 points and went six for 21 from the field, including 0-9 from beyond the arc.
"We came on really strong with our defence," Marcello said. "We're the best defence in the country and it was just a matter of time before we came on. It's no surprise we held their top scorer in check.
"We knew before the game all of their offence goes through Laura and we did a great job on her," she said.
Verbeeten was forced to take low percentage shots because of Guelph's ability to limit her penetration effectiveness, she added
Marcello, the leading scorer in the country, had a great game for the Gryphons, scoring with 20 points, five helpers and four steals.
"The Pat factor killed us," said Western centre Clarkson. "She is hard to stop and the little things she does really adds up."
Clarkson, though, was a bright spot for the Mustangs, leading the team on both ends of the court. She had a team high 14 points to go along with five rebounds. But her most important contribution came on the defensive side of the court, where she limited Guelph centre Angel Hrkac's effectiveness. Hrkac, who averaged 18.4 points and 13.8 rebounds coming into the game, was held to just 10 points and eight rebounds.
"I knew before the game she would be one person I'd have to cover," Clarkson said. "It's something I've been getting ready for all week."
Brock comes to London on Wednesday to face the Mustangs at 7 p.m. at Alumni Hall.