The McMaster women’s basketball team split a weekend double-header against the Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees to improve to 5-1 in the regular season.
On Nov. 15, the Marauders dominated the Ravens on both ends of the floor en route to a gritty 59-39 victory. As usual, the Marauders won on the strength of its OUA-best defense, holding the Ravens to 28 per cent shooting while also forcing them into committing 23 fouls. The offense was carried by the dynamic inside-out duo of Hailey Milligan and Danielle Boiago, who scored 30 and 16 points apiece. The 30-point output was a career high for Milligan, who also nabbed 18 rebounds in the win.
McMaster faced a much stiffer challenge in the second game of their weekend doubleheader. Coming into the game, the CIS ninth-ranked Gee-Gees were 4-1 on the season, and boasted one of the OUA’s highest scoring offenses. In order to keep their five-game winning streak alive, the Marauders’ defense would have to stand strong.
The game got off to a frenetic start, with the Gee-Gees hopping out to an early 13-8 lead in the first quarter before the Marauders knotted it at 20 apiece after the first. As usual, McMaster looked to run their offense through Milligan in the post, but the pesky, swarming Gee-Gee defense prevented Milligan from dominating like she did against the Ravens.
The Gee-Gees continued to attack Milligan in the second quarter. Ottawa made it a point of emphasis to drive into the paint in an effort to draw Milligan into foul trouble, and the plan worked to perfection. Milligan committed three fouls in the second and was forced to sit out, which stagnated the Marauders’ offense. Without their post-presence, McMaster shifted to a pick-and-roll heavy offense, but Ottawa’s hedging strategy on the ball-handler stymied the Marauders and forced the team into launching several contested jump shots late in the shot clock. The Gee-Gees led by a score of 32-28 at the half.
Milligan started the third for the Marauders and she looked dominant on both ends of the court. On the very first McMaster possession, Boiago fed Milligan in the post for an easy layup. Milligan put together a stretch where she scored on consecutive possessions, while also blocking a Gee-Gees shot on the other end.
However, Ottawa’s Stephanie MacDonald matched Milligan shot for shot, scoring nine points in the third. MacDonald’s length and shooting ability made her a tough defensive assignment the entire night, as no Marauder successfully deterred her scoring output. The game was knotted at 47 apiece going into the fourth.
Both teams exchanged baskets for the majority of the final quarter. The Gee-Gees built a six-point lead midway through the quarter, but Mac responded with an 8-0 run, capped off by a three pointer from Vanessa Bonomo, to grab the two-point lead with less than four minutes to go. The game was tied at 58 all when McMaster had the ball with 35 seconds to go. The Marauders tried to put the ball in the hands of their best player, but an awkward entry pass in the face of a double team caused Milligan to turn it over.
The Gee-Gees went the other way, drew a foul with less than five seconds in the game, and fifth-year Catherine Traer hit one of two free throws. Out of time-outs, McMaster’s Stephanie Truelove was forced to chuck up a running three-pointer with time expiring, which fell short, giving the Gee-Gees a hard-fought 60-59 point victory. McMaster was led in scoring by Milligan’s 20, while the Gee-Gees’ Stephanie MacDonald scored 29.
After the game, head coach Theresa Burns lamented the loss, saying “I felt like we still had the game within our destiny, in our hands to create, and we just left stuff hanging on the rim, we left layups, we had a terrible shooting night from the field, from the three-point line, the foul line”.
However, she was satisfied with the performance of her girls.
“I still like the fight in our team – we were outsized at every position, except for point guard- but every other position, even 21 matched Hailey for size, we were smaller. We fought through it, we handled it, and I liked our compete level. I think we’ve arrived, and we’ve shown the league that we mean business,” said Burns.
The split on the weekend brings McMaster’s record to 5-1, which has them tied for first place in the OUA West with Western, Windsor and Laurier. The girls will travel to Kingston, Ont. to face Queen’s on Nov. 22, before facing the York Lions in Toronto the following night.