Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor
By: Jovan Popovic, Contributor
The McMaster 2019-2020 women’s basketball team is halfway through their current season, sitting at a record of seven wins and seven losses, a stark difference from last year where they acheived a record of 11 wins and three losses by the midway point.
They achieved a big win against the extremely challenging University of Windsor Lancers on Jan. 15. Third-year guard, Sarah Gates led the team with 30 points en route to their 70-52 victory. The game mostly came down to the second quarter, where the Marauders outscored the Lancers 27-9. This run came mostly from the incredible second-quarter outburst from Christina Buttenham, who knocked down four three-pointers, on the way to 18 points for the quarter. This was an impressive effort leading the Marauders to victory as the Lancers lose their second game of the season and take their record to 11 wins and two losses.
One of the key factors that led to the Marauders’ win over the highly ranked Lancers was bringing what they do in practice to the court.
“I feel like our team really stepped up big in the Windsor game. We have been having great practices, and struggled to bring it to games, but we took a huge step this past Wednesday [Jan15]. We have a solid team, and I hope that win gives us some confidence. It’s very important for us to stay together like we did against Windsor,” Buttenham said.
Third-year guard Mia Spadafora shared a similar perspective on the importance of that game and how it will influence the team going forward.
“I feel as though our team has been making great strides in the past couple of games. There is a fight that has been so visible and very needed in order for our team to become successful. It is so important for us to be playing in unison and for each other,” Spadafora said.
“I feel that this needs to be ramped up even more in order for this success to continue from the Windsor game we played on Wednesday [January 15], especially because of the toughness of this semester’s schedule. We beat a top ten team, and that’s something we need to hold onto and grow from.”
The 18 point win against the strong Lancers is a reflection of the women’s basketball team’s capabilities. Even though a record of seven wins and seven losses might not show it, the team is capable of more wins if they strategically harness their newfound momentum. Due to a large graduating class last year, star forward Buttenham had to step into a more demanding role this season.
“My biggest focus this season is to become more of a leader. With losing [veteran teammates] Hilary, Linnaea, Erin and Evie, we lost some big voices on and off the court. I think I have come a long way, but there is definitely more I can do to be vocal on the court,” said Butternham.
Buttenham’s progression as a player has seen her focus on being an effective two-way player.
“When I was younger, I put so much focus on scoring. As I continued playing, I turned my focus to defence and noticed that allowed me the chance to let the game come to me instead of trying to force things. There are so many important pieces to a game, so when one may not be working for me I shift my focus to the other aspects of the game,” Buttenham said.
“When I was younger, I put so much focus on scoring. As I continued playing, I turned my focus to defence and noticed that allowed me the chance to let the game come to me instead of trying to force things.”
Clearly, defense has become a priority when training, as it is crucial for the team’s success to have players that can maintain high levels of play at both ends of the court. As shown in the last game, Buttenham is becoming a three and D type player, after showing high levels of defensive play, as well as four threes in the game. Three-point shooting is becoming a much needed skill as well to adjust to modern day basketball. As proven by the Golden State Warriors dynasty in the National Basketball Association, the ability to shoot the long ball is a significant advantage.
Spadafora had some similar thoughts when asked about her three-point shooting ability.
“A three-point shot has always been a huge weapon for myself, and the style of play that we inhibit and exhibit at Mac. Our team is known for a fast pace, so it becomes extremely difficult to try to defend everything. Three-point play is dangerous, daggers like that can change the game through one shot,” Spadafora said.
“Being able to have the range opens up your offence, not only for yourself but for your teammates. When I think of Sarah Gates, she is extremely difficult to guard, if you give her room, that shot is going up. If you overplay, it’s a hard contested drive with a perfect finish. As long as they get twos and you get threes, the game is yours.”
With a playstyle developing a modern touch, the Marauders look poised to finish strong. They remain confident that they have the ability to go on a strong run to close out the season and if they maintain the aggression and balance in their play, they look likely to do it. The team is hopeful to make a playoff run this year, and they look as ready as ever to do it.