While most students were finishing up their reading week break, the McMaster Marauders women’s basketball team was putting in work in a playoff match-up against the Brock Badgers.
Mac defeated the nationally ranked St. Catharines school on the road.
While some may have pegged the Maroon win as an upset, Mac fans know better after the 25-point hammering given to the Badgers in late January.
The victory puts the Marauders in the OUA West Final, where McMaster will meet another nationally ranked team: the #1 Windsor Lancers.
Windsor took both of the regular season matches but the Marauders gave the Lancers their toughest match-up of the year in January.
Windsor scored a season-low 56 points and only defeated McMaster by eight points in their first game.
It’s an impressive feat for the Marauders, but even more jarring when you consider the Lancers average the most points per game in the CIS.
The rematch at Windsor was a different story. Mac was blown out, losing 74-56 on the road.
Hailey Milligan and Danielle Boiago put up respectable numbers at Windsor, but the team was missing their point guard Vanessa Bonomo.
The gap at the position allowed Windsor’s full-court pressure to force 26 turnovers.
But with a healthy roster, it will be a different story in this playoff match-up.
Boiago solidified herself as a scoring threat in the Brock game, dropping 30 points and a clutch game clinching three-pointer.
But the rookie sensation will have a tough time against an experienced and deep backcourt. They play a tough, in-your-face defense that preys on mistakes and turnovers.
Boiago has struggled to keep the turnovers down against the Lancers, averaging five giveaways a game.
Offensively, this game could come down to how well Mac can run the pick-and-roll.
Bonomo and Milligan have been terrific as of late, with Milligan getting great paint position when she rolls to the basket or Bonomo getting to the lane to either find a cutting teammate or hit the lay-up.
But against the length of Windsor’s Miah-Marie Langlois and Jessica Clemencon, McMaster will face the best pick-and-roll defense of the year.
In the home match-up, the Lancers would hedge hard on the screens to cut off a pass to the paint. Windsor also cheated on passing lanes to jump any swings to the wing.
From a defensive perspective, the Marauders will need to start with their own offence.
Cutting down turnovers will limit the lethal transition game of the Lancers.
Mac can also live with three-point attempts as the No.1 ranked team only shoots 27.6 per cent from behind the arc. Limiting Langlois production is another key to the Maroon defense.
Mac faces their toughest test of the season against the Lancers, but the Marauders play well against elite competition.
They competed hard against the Carleton Ravens earlier in the year, and the playoff defeat of Brock solidifies their spot as an up-and-coming team in the women’s university hoops.
Windsor’s court is notoriously difficult to shoot in given its high ceiling and surrounding indoor track.
A defeat of the Lancers is unlikely, but not impossible.
It will take everything McMaster has and some unexpected on-court contributions to grind out a win.
Expect a gritty game from both teams as they vie for the OUA West crown.