Huskies women’s basketball headed to nationals: regular season record pays off for wild card selection

Katie Miyazaki puts up a shot against the Brock Badgers.

A hard-fought game right to the final buzzer ended somberly for many of the Huskies women’s basketball players following their 62-66 loss to the Brock University Badgers Friday, March 9 in the first game of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Women’s Basketball West Regional Tournament.

The fifth-year players, whose eligibility to play basketball extinguishes at the end of this year, left the court visibly upset because they had undoubtedly just lost the last game they would ever play in front of a home crowd. The loss put their hopes of making it to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 Championship tournament in the hands of other teams.

“It is definitely a tough way to go out. To lose on your home court in your last game is not something you wish upon anyone,” said Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis regarding her fifth-year players. “We were hoping to be playing here [Saturday] night, and that is not going to happen now. It’s unfortunate, but hopefully we get to move on and play next week.”

The Dogs were forced to put all their hopes of continuing on receiving the wild card berth into the Final 8 tournament. The selection for the wild card position contained 11 different criteria, but favour is often given to the highest nationally ranked team that doesn’t qualify for the tournament through the regional or conference qualifiers. In order for the Huskies to have become a likely candidate for the position they needed the University of Regina Cougars and the University of Windsor Lancers to make it through their respective tournaments.

The Huskies were seeded one spot higher than Brock, but the statistics for the teams looked like mirror images of each other prior to the game. The Huskies sported a 15-5 regular season record, while Brock had a 15-7 record. In addition, both teams also won the bronze in their respective conference championships a week prior to this tournament.

The game tempo was high and the ball moved up and down the court for the entire game. By the end of the first quarter the score was tied at 16, thanks to a last-second three-point basket from the Dogs’ Kiera Lyons. The lead changed 10 times in the opening half alone, but neither team would give up more than a five-point spread before storming back and levelling the match. The teams finished the half knotted with 28 points apiece.

Coming out of the locker room, it seemed Brock was able to make better use of their chances early and went on an 8-2 point run to start the second half. It turned out to be the difference maker in the game as the third quarter was the only one in which the teams did not tie in scoring.

The Badgers led 51-47 heading into the final frame.

The Huskies closed the gap to one point with three-and-a-half minutes left in the game, but that is as close as they would get.

Badgers forward Nicole Rosenkranz led Brock with 18 points in the match and seven rebounds in only 26 minutes of play.

Following that game, Regina defeated the fourth-seeded Concordia Stingers. Jumping to an early lead, the Cougars scored eight points in the first two minutes before slowing down the pace. Regina led by 13 points at the half and kept that margin very consistent throughout the second half of play. They eventually won by a score of 73-60.

The West Regional Final game was played the following day between Regina and Brock. Fortunately for the Huskies, Regina was able to fend off the Badgers. Brock managed to stay close for the first quarter, but soon after the Cougars regained their dominance and went on to win 85-62.

The Windsor Lancers won the East Regional title, ensuring their spot in the national tournament. This, in combination with the Regina win, led to the Dogs being announced as the selection for the wild card position. The announcement made March 11 marks the fifth-straight year the women have reached the prestigious tournament.

“It is definitely a sigh of relief,” expressed Huskies captain Katie Miyazaki after finding out her team received the coveted wild card spot and would continue their hunt for a CIS championship.

“The odds were in our favour after the [Regina and Brock] game, and the selection is a reflection of [the] entire year we have had and our success.”

The Huskies will go into the CIS Final 8 tournament seeded sixth. They will play against the third-seeded Ottawa Gee-Gees in the opening round.

Ottawa boasts a 19-3 regular season record and have gone 4-1 in playoffs thus far. The tournament will be played March 17-19 in Calgary with the gold medal match scheduled for Monday, March 19.


Photo: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf