School may have officially started for McMaster University students on Jan. 4, but for the McMaster women’s basketball team, the second half of their regular season started on Dec. 30 with a win over the York University Lions.

Since then the Marauders have remain undefeated, beating both the Windsor Lancers and the Brock Badgers. The team now sits at third place in the Ontario University Athletics West Division with an 8-4 overall record.

Although all three games were great wins, the most impressive of the three was the 75-44 victory over the Badgers. The victory was witnessed by many supporters thanks to the “Pack the House” initiative arranged by McMaster Athletics.

Different from any other home game, the first 100 McMaster students who filed into the gym received a free t-shirt courtesy of the McMaster Students Union Maroons and McMaster Athletics. There was also a contest rewarding the residence with the most students in attendance with a free pizza party, courtesy of Pizza Pizza.

The game started off slow for the Badgers in the first quarter, as Mac only allowed four points. That is exactly what the Marauders hoped for going into the game.

“Our game plan usually against teams is mostly defensive,” said second-year player Julia Hanaka. “We try to really get up and start the tempo early because we want them to be the ones following us instead of vice versa.”

The Marauders applied a lot of pressure early on, making it difficult for Brock to score as they finished the game 0 of 13 from three. Though for head coach Theresa Burns, she knew that their team was capable of more.

“We didn’t have a great start, however it is going to happen,” said Burns. “I thought we turned things around in the second quarter and we started to play at the pace we wanted to play at.”

Leading the team in points, Lexie Spadafora scored 18 points, while Linnaea Harper was right behind her with 17 points. For their third straight win, the women’s team attributes both winter break scrimmages against top teams in the University of Saskatchewan Huskies and Queen’s University’s Gaels and the “Pack the House” turnout as the reason why the team played so well.

“When you challenge yourself against the top teams in the country, it can only make you better and it is such a great learning tool,” said Burns. “It gets you going again after the winter break and brings you back to that intensity level that you need to be at and get everyone on the same page.”

As for the large amount of support, it created an atmosphere that any player would love to play in. For Hanaka, a huge reason why she and other players chose to come to Mac was because they have seen first hand the amount of support that comes out during initiatives like “Pack the House”.

“When the whole crowd goes crazy, everybody on the bench gets fired up and we get more into [the game] because of how much support we see,” said Hanaka.

Being able to work on their transition game, apply different defences and just continue to get better as a whole over the break has surely paid off so far for the Marauders. With the next game at the University of Waterloo to face the 1-11 Warriors, Mac will have no problem building off of their momentum and keeping their winning streak alive.

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