Nobody thought the McMaster women’s basketball team would end their season the way they did. An OUA quarterfinal game against Lakehead in a packed Burridge Gym saw the Marauders hang up their jerseys to a 82-49 loss.

The Marauders ruined Lakehead’s playoff dreams last year, and the Thunderwolves dominated from the jump ball as a means of payback.

A gym full of maroon as McMaster had the home-court advantage and the week off to rest did not stop Lakehead from advancing to the OUA Final Four.

It was one of third-year guard Danielle Boiago’s quieter performances, only scoring four points. Rookie Hilary Hanaka led with 10 points, but that was not enough to control the OUA Player of the Year, Jylisa Williams.

“Everybody is asking the same question, ‘what happened?’ and it is a hard question to answer and we are still trying to pinpoint it ourselves,” said Boiago, who was named to the OUA All-Star First-Team for her contributions throughout the year.

You can try to compile a list of all of the things that the Marauders could have done differently or try and answer the question that is on the minds of many, but that is not important now.

“We felt prepared going into it but it spun out of control so quickly that we just could never get ourselves on track. I think the explanation for those kinds of breakdowns in sport is complex and can’t be pinned on any one factor,” said head coach Theresa Burns.

With injuries testing the strength of the roster throughout the year, this young team still managed to rank in the CIS Top Ten for the entire season.

This season also allowed for a lot of new players off the bench and embracing bigger leadership roles. With 15-4, the Central division champions were put the rest of the league on notice.

“We did a lot of things that people didn’t expect from us and we were able to build as the season progressed so just to pinpoint our season on one game was disappointing, but there were so many other positives that we could take from it so, we had to focus more on that,” said Boiago.

“It certainly wasn’t the way we wanted to wrap up the season, but that one game can’t define us. We need to learn from it and continue to move on as athletes and coaches,” said Burns.

Despite the loss, Burns is pleased with her squad and what they have shown on and off the court.

“I am immensely proud of our team. First and foremost, for the commitment and work ethic each team member brought to the gym each night. The team culture and environment continues to be one of respect, support, inclusion and a place where we each have a chance to be our best selves,” she said.

Looking forward, the off-season is a chance for the team to refocus and prepare themselves to start a new chapter. The new season of basketball also means the introduction of new players adding to the fast-paced playing style that has become synonymous with the women’s team and one that is always fun to watch. Coming off of an improved season, the attitude of the team is a positive one.

“Compared to last year, we played faster, spaced the floor better and shared the ball more this year to suit our skills and strengths. I see that continuing next year, as the new players we will add will be well suited to that style of play,” said Burns of her team’s continuous improvement.

With off-season training starting in just a few weeks for the McMaster women’s basketball team, they will be back in the gym doing the necessary work to come back in the fall making more noise in the OUA and being better, faster and stronger.

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