February 10, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 72  

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Mustangs outlast Brock in physical battle

By Matt Larkin
Gazette Writer

Joyce Wang/Gazette
CAN YOU PICK MY WEDGIE FOR ME? Rebecca Heeney displays bottom hoping to befriend York after the Mustangs defeated them 66-51

It was clear right from the opening tip-off of Saturday’s 66-51 win for the Western women’s basketball team that the game would be far from ordinary.

With both teams getting into foul trouble early and holding each other pointless for the start of the game, a rough, physical tone was set for the afternoon.

What was the motivation for the intensity and physicality of Saturday’s game? The simple answer would be the importance of the contest, as the Brock Badgers sat only 4 points back of the Mustangs for first place in the Ontario University Athletics Western Division heading into the match.

There also appeared to be some bad blood between the two squads. “Both teams have a healthy mutual respect for competing,” said Western head coach Mike Milne. “And that translates into a healthy, physical game.”

Mustangs forward Cheryl Atkinson, who dominated the game with 15 points and a whopping 14 rebounds, thought some extra motivation besides the teams’ placement in the standings contributed to the fiery play. “In the playoffs last year, they were the ones who knocked us out,” she stated.
Atkinson also revealed a more personal incentive to win while discussing Brock forward and OUA all-time leading scorer Stacey Farr. “I went to high school with Stacy Farr,” she explained. “That could create a bit of an extra rivalry”.

Brock head coach Chris Critelli had an entirely different perspective on the game. “Every game for us has been physical this year,” she said. “It’s not a Brock-Western thing. I think the referees have allowed the game to become very physical. They need to buckle down. In 22 years, this is the most inconsistent officiating I’ve seen in a game.”

The combative play, regardless of the factors causing it, seemed to wear Brock down as the game went on. Trailing only 29-23 at the half, Brock deflated down the stretch, as Western’s red hot shooting — 50 per cent from the field in the second half and 60 per cent from three point range — allowed them to go on an 18-3 run.

Critelli said she felt that her team faltered due to health woes. “We’re beat up,” she noted. “We had a starter on the bench who won’t be ready until the playoffs, three kids with the flu and it was evident in our game — we struggled.”

Milne credited the victory to his players’ ability to shut down Brock’s answer to Shaq and Kobe, forward Stacey Farr and Guard Jodie Ebeling respectively, both among the top scorers in the province. “Our whole defensive strategy was to contain ‘the Big Two’,” he said.

A group effort fueled the Mustang offence. When asked if the performances of Atkinson, Julie Lamparski (13 points) and Karenina Aguilar (2-for-2 from three point land) took the pressure off her, team scoring leader Rebecca McColl said there was no pressure in the first place.

“I don’t feel any pressure to score,” she said. “Today everyone came out focused and ready.”

McColl said she relished the aggressive nature of the game. “I love it,” she explained. “Mentally, you have to be strong enough to handle it.”



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