The best measuring stick is going to toe-to-toe with the best. McMaster’s women’s basketball team had that opportunity over the weekend when they travelled to the University of Windsor to take on the No.1 team in the country.
After falling behind 9-0 in the opening minutes of the OUA West Final, the Marauders were stuck trying to claw their way back.
For every run Mac would go on, the Lancers would match. It was a physical and frustrating game and the veteran squad from Windsor, Ont. came out victorious with a 73-51 final.
The game showed how much further McMaster has to go to be the best in the country.
Despite the loss, the young group will have another opportunity to take another step towards becoming one of the elite teams in the CIS.
Dropping the OUA West Final puts Mac in a bronze medal game against the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
Being a long shot at the CIS Championship tournament, this looks like it will be the last game of the season for the Maroon and Grey. That doesn’t mean head coach Theresa Burns and her squad are taking it lightly, though.
“For us, this is a big pride game. We know that mathematically speaking, based on the criteria, there’s probably not a wildcard selection coming out of this for us,” explained Burns. “But we’re going to go out and play with pride in our program and pride in what we’ve accomplished, especially the second half of this season.”
Mac has been able to right the ship after a difficult opening to the season. Burns points to an identity crisis as a main contributor to the early struggles, as the graduation of Taylor Chiarot left a hole on both ends of the court. The new Maroon identity revolves around Hailey Milligan, Vanessa Bonomo, and Danielle Boiago.
Milligan has to be in the conversation as an All-Canadian player after earning her first OUA All-Star award. Boiago is a safe bet for a CIS rookie of the year nod.
Bonomo has emerged as a reliable point guard to run the fast-paced Maroon offence and excels at getting the ball to the right players at the right time.
Mac will rely heavily on these three in the battle for bronze. In the Nov. 16 match-up, Ottawa ran all over the Marauders. Milligan played 15 minutes, Boiago shot 2-13 and Bonomo only took four shots. The Gee-Gees won 82-55, with the 82 points being the second highest number of points allowed all season. But the key number that jumps out is Milligan’s 15 minutes.
“This is a completely different Hailey than we had in Ottawa last time. I think our team is at a different level,” says Burns. The first team OUA All-Star will look to continue her thirteen game double-double streak.
Defeating the Gee-Gees would be an upset but not all that surprising to the team. They’ve come a long way since the middle of November and have been playing with more synergy than ever. Burns expects a tough match-up against the No. 7 ranked team.
“Ottawa is going to be playing their best too. All teams should be at the end of the season, and they generally are in your still hanging around in the playoffs.”