Buzzer beater keeps Gryphon hoops women in playoff hunt

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – A buzzer beater and the Guelph Gryphons are in the final position that will be awarded a playoff berth in the OUA women’s basketball playoffs next weekend.

The Gryphs moved to 5-13 when Ivana Vujadinovic dropped a jump shot at the buzzer to give the hosts a 71-70 victory over the Lakehead Thunderwolves Saturday night at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre.

“She made the shot when she had to make the shot,” Gryphon coach Mark Walton said. “I think the kids showed a lot of poise at the end when they had to show the poise and that was the key thing to me.”

While the Gryphs called a timeout to work out their plan as they inbounded the ball from near their bench with three seconds to go, getting the ball to Vujadinovic wasn’t option No. 1.

“It is a set play,” Walton said. “It’s the second or third part of a set play, but they shut off the first two parts and Eve was open, made a good shot and made the shot.”

While the Gryphs were happy with the win, it shouldn’t have been that close in the first place. They held an 18-point lead in the opening minute of the second half, but gave most of it up in during the remainder of the third quarter. However, they did hang tough for the victory.

“I think especially in that third quarter, we were beating their pressure up the floor and then taking a bad shot selection,” Walton said. “Not necessarily a bad shot, but a bad shot at the wrong time and making hurried shots – that kind of stuff. That to me is experience and poise and it’ll come eventually.”

Lakehead led 15-13 at the end of the first quarter before the Gryphs shot ahead 39-23 by halftime. Guelph was up 50-49 after the third quarter.

“A couple of times we got an offensive rebound and we forced up a bad shot instead of just, OK, we’ve got an offensive rebound, throw it back out and run some offence,” Walton said. “That again is part of that poise and maturity that they have to learn and grow through.”

Megan Brenkel struck for 23 points for the Gryphs while Samantha Renshaw had 14, Sarah Holmes 13, Ashley Wheeler 11, Vujadinovic six and Abbey Clark four. Wheeler and Holmes each had nine rebounds while Wheeler and Brenkel each had two blocks.

“They’re still such a young team,” Walton said. “All the guys on the floor are third- and second-year players. It takes a while and they’re players that didn’t play a lot last year. That poise and all of that is going to take some time.”

The Gryphs and Thunderwolves had pretty similar stats for the game, Lakehead shooting 35.7 per cent, Guelph 35.4; Lakehead shooting 28.6 per cent on three-pointers, Guelph 20 per cent; Lakehead shooting 70 per cent on free throws, Guelph 76.9.

The result leaves the Gryphs at 5-13 and at .4540 in RPI, good for the 12th and final playoff spot. Lakehead is ninth at 7-10 and .4813 RPI. Waterloo Warriors are 13th at 5-13 and .4476 RPI.

“RPI – I wish I could find somebody smart enough to figure it out, how that RPI thing works,” Walton said. “It is what it is and if we get to make the playoffs, that’s a bonus. Anything can happen in the playoffs.”

Guelph and Waterloo are to meet Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Gryphons Athletics Centre to close the regular season.