Knowing it was the last game at the McMaster Burridge Gym this year, the Marauders seized the moment by beating the Lakehead Thunderwolves, 68-44, in Ontario University Athletics West Division women’s basketball playoff action on Wednesday night (Feb. 19).
Facing an opponent that had beaten them in Thunder Bay three weeks earlier, the Marauders appreciated they could not look past Lakehead. Both teams showed some nervousness to start the game which was scoreless for more than two minutes, before Lakehead star Jylisa Williams dropped the first bucket. The Wolves went ahead 8-5 before McMaster closed the quarter on a 9-2 run to lead 14-10 after one period.
The Marauders got two jumpers from Hailey Milligan to start the second quarter, bumping the margin to eight points. The Marauder bench came through in the second quarter as Liz Burns, Rachael Holmes, and Clare Kenney all came into the game and provided some offense. With Lakehead paying close attention to Milligan and Danielle Boiago, it was crucial to get points elsewhere. By intermission, McMaster led 30-21.
The third quarter saw McMaster break the game open as the Marauders made back-to-back-to-back treys, with Jaklynn Nimec, Vanessa Bonomo, and Boiago making the long distance calls. Before Lakehead could get a timeout, the Maroon barrage had upped the lead to 43-25. Held to a single point in the first half, Boiago started to find the range and by the end of the third quarter McMaster was in front 53-36.
With 10 minutes left to advance in the playoffs, the Marauders kept playing tough defense and opened the final stanza on an 11-2 run to open their biggest lead at 64-38. The Thunderwolves’ strategy of denying Milligan freed up other Mac shooters and Nimec and Bonomo both had their highest scoring games in several weeks. McMaster only allowed eight points in the final quarter to close out the 24-point victory.
Boiago finished with 15 to lead the Mac attack, while Bonomo had 14, with Nimec and Milligan each adding 11 points. Milligan also grabbed 16 rebounds for the double-double.
Top shooter for Lakehead was Williams with 17.
McMaster shot a respectable 42% from the floor for the game, while Lakehead only hit a chilly 24% of its shots. The Marauders outrebounded the Wolves 43-41.
With Laurier’s defeat of Brock in the other playoff game, McMaster now faces the daunting task of travelling to Windsor this Saturday for an OUA West semi-final against the top-ranked Lancers.