In one of those important games when a team is chasing an opponent in the standings, the McMaster women’s basketball team fought from behind and secured a 67-62 win over the Western Mustangs on Saturday afternoon in the Burridge Gym.
The win pulled fourth place Mac to within two points of third place Western in Ontario University Athletics West Division.
The game had two well-matched opponents on display, playing very even through the early stages of the contest. The Marauders managed to gain some space at the end of the first quarter, taking a 21-16 lead.
The Maroon lead grew to 28-18 early in the second, leading to a timeout by the Mustangs. Western proceeded to chip away at the Mac lead for the rest of the quarter, getting to within two, 34-32. With only seconds remaining Marauder Vanessa Bonomo hit from three-point range to restore the five-point McMaster advantage at halftime.
Western set the early pace in the third quarter and took a 42-41 lead after about four minutes. McMaster then scored two quick hoops to move back in front before the Mustangs responded. Baskets became scarce for the rest of the quarter, and the score was tied 48-48 heading to the final stanza.
It was Western with the stronger start in the fourth quarter and with just over five minutes remaining the Mustangs had taken their largest lead of the game at 55-49. With Marauder fans watching nervously, McMaster looked inside to Hailey Milligan who refused to be denied near the Western basket and she delivered.
Behind Milligan, McMaster went up 59-57 with under a minute to go. At that point Vanessa Bonomo hit a clutch shot to make the lead 61-57, and also making it a two-possession game. Hoping to extend the game at the free throw line, Western was forced to foul and the Marauders hit enough shots from the charity stripe to close out the win.
Mac’s Rachael Holmes had a strong finish to the contest, hitting the jumper that tied the score at 57-57 and grabbing three key offensive rebounds in the last 30 seconds to deny Western a comeback.
The Marauders got a double-double performance from Milligan, who had 21 points and 15 rebounds and was named the BIG MAC player of the game. Danielle Boiago chipped in 13 for Mac and grabbed nine boards to just miss a double-double of her own. Western’s Jenny Vaughan scored 21 to garner player of the game honours for the Mustangs.
Next up for the Marauders is a weekend in Thunder Bay as they head north to play Lakehead University on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.