Mustangs Sweep The Thunderbirds
“Playoffs? We’re just trying to win a damn game!” Not only is that a famous sports quote from then Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL, Jim Mora, it is also a way of life for the Western Women’s Basketball team. This season in particular has been a rough one, with wins and healthy bodies, being hard to come by. The sun always rises however, and the Mustangs got their much needed sweep of the Algoma Thunderbirds this weekend, winning the second of back to back games at home versus the Thunderbirds, 51-45. Although the effort was collective as a team, the win was fueled largely by the 15 points by fourth year guard, Laura Graham.
This contest was a low scoring affair right from the start, and the first quarter was an indication that it was going down to the wire, with every possession counting, literally. Graham, and the return to the lineup of veteran players, relied on hustle to stem a defensive and offensive struggle for both teams. After one quarter of play, Western held a comfortable 15-7 lead. The Mustangs inflated the lead by hitting on three out of five from behind the arc.
Algoma returned the favour of hitting the three to Western in the second quarter. The Thunderbirds nailed three of their seven attempts, and held the Mustangs to one field goal, and no threes. Suddenly at halftime, the fans in attendance had a game on their hands. 21-18 was the score after the first two quarters.
Western turned up the pressure in the second half, and it seemed to work for the most part, although they did at times have breakdowns in the defence, giving Algoma wide open looks from the land beyond. In the end, the return to the lineup of key players injected some sorely missed team chemistry and leadership, which proved to be too much for the visiting Thunderbirds. As coach of the Mustangs, Brian Cheng eluded to in his post-game comments, this weekend, Algoma pushed and battled Western right down to the end. Honourable mention should also go to guard Emma Johnson, who contributed 11 points, but turned the momentum of the game at optimal times with her 5 steals.
The win, improves the record of the purple and white to 3-11. The Thunderbirds drop to 4-10, inching the Mustangs closer to climbing out of the OUA West division basement. Western hosts their rivals from Waterloo, as the Warriors visit Alumni Hall on Friday January 18th at 6pm.