Gryphon hoops women shut down Marauders
GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons might have won their OUA women’s basketball league game Wednesday night at the Guelph Gryphons Athletic Centre by almost 30 points, but it wasn’t their offence that pleased them the most.
It was their defence.
Guelph Gryphons 82 McMaster 54
The Gryphs were beaming after holding the usually high-powered McMaster Marauders to less than 20 points in each of the four quarters.
“We really, really defended well tonight and that’s the key to the game,” Gryphon coach Mark Walton said. “They’ve got great players and a great program and we knew we were going to have to guard Sarah Gates really well, which I thought we did. That’s the key. We have to be able to defend, rebound and run.”
The Gryphs took control early as they scored the first seven points of the game and had an 11-point lead just over four minutes into the contest. They would go on to lead 22-11 at the end of the first quarter, 49-27 at halftime and 70-43 after three quarters.
Burke Bechard led the Gryphs with 18 points, eight rebounds and three steals while Skyla Minaker had 13 points, six rebounds and four steals. Renee Armstrong added 11 points, five rebounds and two steals and Trinity Papamandjaris had 11 points and six rebounds. Julia Colcavecchia had eight points and eight rebounds while MacKeely Shantz had nine points, five rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Natalie Vigna also had nine points.
Gates collected 17 points, four rebounds and three steals and was McMaster’s only player in double digits in scoring. Cassandra Joli-Coeur had eight points and four rebounds and Tori Rigas-Didomenico had seven points and three rebounds.
The Gryphs shot 41 percent on field goals, 42 percent on three-pointers and 78 percent on free throws and had 18 points off turnovers, 20 second-chance points and 30 points from their bench.
McMaster shot 30 percent on field goals, 23 percent on three-pointers (7 of 30) and 58 percent on free throws. They also had nine points off turnovers, five second-chance points and 23 points from their bench.
If there was one thing the Gryphs weren’t too pleased with it was their shooting in the second half when they missed 21 of 35 field-goal shots including seven of eight three-pointers.
“Most of them weren’t good shots, either,” Walton said. “If we miss a good shot you can kind of live with that. But when it’s an out-of-rhythm shot and there’s no flow going to the game, that’s when they become bad shots and we’ve got to do better than that. We can point to that at practice tomorrow and say ‘We’ve got to clean this up.’ We were lucky tonight that we had a 20-point lead. That’s our mandate now.”
The Gryphs will focus on executing their offence before they tangle with the Marauders again Saturday at Hamilton.
“I thought it got stagnant a few times,” Walton said. “I thought we made some bad decisions in transition and we’ve got to clean a lot of that up.”
The Gryphs are off to a strong start as they’ve won all three of their games, beating the Windsor Lancers twice and McMaster once. Their smallest margin of victory was 20 points.
Walton puts the fast start down to the work the players put in during the cancelled 2020-2021 season.
“In many ways, the pandemic was a blessing in disguise for us because with all five freshmen, they could work virtually in their driveway, which many of them did, or in their corner parking lot or wherever they could find some pavement and do fundamental skills,” he said. “When it was allowable for us to get together we would get together whenever we could in small groups usually. They really made the time count. There’s a great Lou Holtz line from Notre Dame. He said ‘Don’t count the time, make the time count.’ And that’s exactly what I think we did.”
Guelph leads the West Division at 3-0 while the Western Mustangs and Brock Badgers are tied at 2-0 and McMaster’s at 2-1. Waterloo Warriors follow at 1-0 while Lakehead Thunderwolves, Algoma Thunderbirds and Laurier Golden Hawks are each at 0-2 and Windsor’s at 0-3.
Like almost every other OUA team sport that has a regular season of more than 10 games, women’s basketball features strictly in-division play this season and teams play an opponent twice in a week, usually in home-and-home series. Most games are Wednesday at one team’s home gym and Saturday at the other team’s gym.
“It’s very difficult to play a team twice in a row,” Walton said. “When you’ve got a team the calibre of McMaster, you know if you beat them one night that’s no guarantee you’re going to do it the next night. You’ve got to come ready to play the next night, plain and simple.”
The Gryphs and Marauders are to play Saturday at McMaster’s Burridge Gym. Game time is 1 p.m.
- Guelph Sports Journal