Hamilton, ON – It was always going to be a tough test – arguably their most challenging yet. The McMaster men’s and women’s basketball teams faced the undefeated Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West-leading Brock Badgers in a home-and-home.
While the Marauders fell on the road in St. Catharines on Feb. 16 – albeit with some promising signs as they were able to keep the games close at times – Saturday at the Burridge Gym provided a chance for redemption at home as the teams honoured Black History Month.
Women outpaced by Badgers
Much like Wednesday night, the Marauders started off well, keeping pace with the Badgers throughout the first quarter, trailing 16-14. Their two leading scorers – Sarah Gates and Amy Stinson – were able to get going in the first half.
However, Brock showed their depth and experience in the second and third quarters as they took a 37-25 halftime lead and led by around 20 points by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, leading to a 72-53 win.
The impressive aspect of it was they were able to get contributions from numerous players and played with chemistry and cohesion on both ends of the floor. While their OUA all-star Samantha Keltos had only five points at the half, veterans Jenneke Pilling (seven points), Mackenzie Robinson (six), Ivana Twumasi (seven) and Victoria Lawrence (eight) all chipped in.
Robinson and Twumasi were instrumental in running the offence, driving to the basket while finding their teammates with good looks. Meanwhile, Lawrence was tenacious on both ends of the court, with her hounding defence leading to three steals.
One common thread between them: Robinson, Twumasi and Lawrence all have U Sports and CCAA experience from previous seasons. Add in returning players such as Pilling and Keltos – who got going in the second half to lead the team with 17 points – and Brock’s depth is firmly on display.
As for the Marauders, they closed the game out well with a solid fourth quarter, especially from deep as Jenna Button, Pietra Kamstra, Deanna Mataseje, Tori Rigas-DiDomenico all connected, along with Stinson and Gates.
It was another solid outing from Stinson, the second-year forward (in her first year of eligibility), who led the team in points (19) and shot five-for-ten from three. She called the Badgers a formidable team with good chemistry.
“It’s challenging playing but it’s tough losing to them because I think our team has a lot to produce that we haven’t necessarily been doing,” she noted. “It stings a little bit because we know what we’re capable of but it’s just something we have to build off of and take it to our next practice and just improve with.”
According to Stinson, the team had to produce little things to build momentum off of – notably on the defensive end.
“Brock has athletic players that go for O-boards, they kick out, they rotate the ball well so it’s small things just like boxing out that we can’t miss,” Stinson added. “We just have to communicate on defence, rotate on defence and then just take care of their top scorers, and then also take care of their secondary scorers, and that’s something we missed little parts of the last two games, which is why I think we didn’t succeed the way we could have.”
The Marauders now sit fifth in the OUA West at 6-4. Their road to nationals will likely mean facing the Badgers at some point in the OUA playoffs – a third chance to improve on those little things to reach the biggest stage.
Men Snap Brock Unbeaten Run
After dropping a close 94-88 game on the road midweek, the Marauders came out strong against the Badgers, leading 20-16 after one quarter.
Against a team of Brock’s depth and quality, McMaster matched them throughout with their contributions and energy on both ends of the court. It started early as forward Ares Culley-Bremner turned defence into offence for two early baskets while third-year guard Sefa Otchere heated up with some threes and scored off the fast break. He led the team with three steals.
Culley-Bremner’s strong play continued throughout the game as he scored late in the fourth while leading the team with three blocks. McMaster pushed the ball in transition and found good looks at the rim and beyond the arc.
Point guard Jordan Henry was a big part of that as he directed the offence with 17 points and a team-high seven assists. Mike Demagus had another solid showing on both ends with 14 points and five rebounds, while fellow starter Mychael Paulo had four rebounds and two steals.
Their tight perimeter defence paid off as they had 13 steals to Brock’s nine. As the game went back-and-forth in the second half, McMaster was able to keep a slim lead. When they did trail, they kept it primarily within one score.
With the game tied at 67 with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, the Marauders made their final push. Culley-Bremner finished at the rim while Jonathan Kitenge scored to extend the lead to 73-69.
Brock cut it within one thanks to a corner three by Daniel Caldwell. However, they fouled Henry with an unsportsmanlike foul (two free throws plus the Marauders keep the ball). Henry hit the two free throws, was fouled on the next play, hit another two free throws, and the Marauders held on for the 75-70 victory.
With the win, McMaster moves to second place in OUA West Division with a 7-4 record, only behind Brock, which drops to 9-1 now. With wins over Brock and Western, the Marauders continue to build up their record and resume leading up to the OUA playoffs and possibly nationals.
Featured Image: McMaster Athletics