December 2 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 52  

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SPORTS

Mustangs topple Golden Hawks

By Amanda Robinson
Gazette Writer

Matt Prince/Gazette
AND THAT’S HOW IT’S DONE! The Mustangs’ Cheryl Atkinson helps rack up the points against Laurier Saturday to record a 60-48 victory.

It was all about Atkinson and McColl in the Western Mustangs' women's basketball team's 60-48 victory over the second place Laurier Golden Hawks Saturday afternoon.

The Mustangs were carried to victory by the strong inside presence of Cheryl Atkinson and Rebecca McColl, who clearly outplayed the Laurier defense. The forwards had help from guards Julie Lamparski, Alana Juzenas and Karenina Aguilar, who also contributed to the Mustang win with their defensive intensity.

Western started off slow in the beginning, but picked up the pace late in the first half. Their strong defensive pressure on the ball flustered the Golden Hawks' offense by forcing turnovers and rushed shots. This in turn created fast break opportunities which the Mustangs capitalized on, giving them easy points in the paint. The Mustangs finished the first half with a solid three point lead.

The Golden Hawks didn't give up, however, as they came out strong in the second half -but the Mustang defense, combined with Atkinson and McColl, were too hot for the Hawks to handle. In the last five minutes, Lamparski forced a few turnovers and had some fast break opportunities- the Mustangs pulled away and soared to victory.

Part of the their victory can be attributed to forcing the Hawks into poor shot selection. Western also out-rebounded their opponents and took advantage of fast break opportunities. Unfortunately for the Golden Hawks, there was no answer to the offensive threat the Mustang forwards' posed.

In attempts to shut down the Mustangs overpowering forwards, Laurier coach Stu Julius instructed his players to "front the posts." Unfortunately, this strategy was ineffective as Atkinson and McColl proved unstoppable inside.

Mustangs' coach Mike Milne believed the key to their success was getting the ball inside and making the Hawks play defense in the interior. "It was also the contribution of our defensive intensity, [which] transferred into our offensive game," he added.

Not only did the Mustangs outplay the Golden Hawks with their outstanding hustle and teamwork, but their strategy to shut down top scorer Meaghan McGrath aided in their victory. Their swarming defense prevented McGrath from heating up her three-point shot.

"We tried to limit her three-point opportunities as well as contest any shots that she put up," Milne said.

However, despite McGrath's performance, Julius believed the loss wasn't a result of McGrath being shutdown, but instead it was the Mustangs' work ethic and intensity that resulted in the Hawks defeat.

"Western outworked us and hit their shots -we shot the ball poorly," Julius said. "It was a team loss. Meaghan has had other games like this and we've had other players step up." He added that success at the foul line was also a main factor in the Mustangs' victory. "Their free throws were good even though they are statistically one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the league," Julius said.

Alana Juzenas, who shot the ball well and had an excellent defensive game, attributed the win to team defense. "Laurier is one of the best offensive teams in the league, averaging 70 points per night, while we are the best defensive team," she said. "We knew if we could hold them under 60 points, which we did, then we would be alright."

 

 

 

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