Photo credit Michael P. Hall / By Shawn Whiteley
HAMILTON (CIS) – In the final game of her university career, three-time all-Canadian Lindsay DeGroot led the third-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies to a 78-67 victory over the No. 4 Regina Cougars, Sunday afternoon at McMaster University’s Burridge Gym, to capture the CIS women’s basketball championship bronze medal, marking team’s first-ever podium finish at nationals.
Championship web site (complete stats): http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wbkb
Regina trailed 11-9 with 4:45 left in the first quarter, before going on an 11-0 run over the next two minutes for a 20-11 advantage with 2:30 left in the opening period and a 25-16 cushion at the end of the stanza.
In the second quarter, the Huskies found themselves down by as many as 12 points, 31-19 with 6:56 remaining, before putting together a 16-3 run to regain the lead 35-34 on a three-pointer from Lauren Whyte with 3:01 on the clock.
The provincial rivals were deadlocked 37-37 at the half.
In the first four minutes of the third period, Saskatchewan went on a 12-2 run and led 49-39 four minutes in. The tough Regina squad would not go away however and brought it to within five points, at 51-46, with 3:38 left in the third
Saskatchewan went into the final quarter ahead 60-52.
Regina opened the fourth with back-to-back field goals from sophomore guard Joanna Zalesiak of Gorzow Wielkopolski, Poland, cutting the lead to four points, 60-56, with 8:01 left in regulation. Over the next four minutes, the Huskies put together a 7-0 run for the 67-56 advantage while stepping up on defence keeping the Cougars scoreless.
“This is a special moment, this is such a great group of girls,” said Saskatchewan head coach Lisa Thomaidis, in her 12th season at the helm. “The girls worked so hard, not just today, but game in and game out. We knew Regina would be exhausted today and we knew we had to be good. I thought having been in games like that, down to Regina before, we knew we could come back because we had done it before. It gave us a sense of confidence.”
Saskatchewan had three players in double figures led by DeGroot of Thedford, Ont., who scored 11 of her team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter earning Russell Athletics player of the game honours for the winning side. The McMaster transfer finished her career with two CIS bronze medals as she also placed third in 2008 with the Marauders.
“I cannot even explain how great this is,” said DeGroot. “To have all my family, my friends here, it was special. It may not have been the colour of medal I wanted, but it was my fairy tale ending and it will be great to celebrate tonight.”
“We said no matter what, all of us girls needed to play for each other and from there we got focused and turned it around,” explained DeGroot. “We had five minutes and a whole other half and we were able to come together.”
Senior Jill Humbert of Saskatoon contributed with 19 points and seven assists including 4-for-9 from beyond the arc. Also in double figures for the Huskies were Kim Tulloch of Regina and Lauren Whyte of Nanaimo, B.C., who chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Leading Regina was Zalesiak, who finished with a game-high 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. She was named the Cougars Russell Athletics player of the game for the third straight day.
Junior Brittany Read of Regina added 17 points and a tournament-high 15 rebounds for the double-double, while Rebecca Schmidt, also of Regina, added nine points.
“We ran out of legs, especially in the second half,” said Regina head coach Dave Taylor. “They had a quick turnaround too but found a way, found an extra step. They were able to stay strong.”
Saskatchewan finished the contest shooting 40.0% (26-for-65) including 33.3% (9-for-27) from beyond the arc. Regina shot just 34.4% (22-for-64) which included a tournament low 20.0% (4-for-20) from three-point range.
NOTES: Saskatchewan had won both head-to-head match-ups during the regular season before reaching the Canada west final, while Regina settled for Canada West bronze... The Huskies return to Saskatoon with a 2-1 record at the championship including a 70-54 defeat of No. 6 Cape Breton in the quarter-final round and an 82-60 semifinal loss to No. 2 Windsor... Regina went 1-2 at the tournament including a 69-54 win over No. 5 Laval in the opening round and a 69-55 loss to No. 1 Simon Fraser on Saturday...
Points: Lindsay DeGroot (24), Jill Humbert (19), Kim Tulloch (11), Lauren Whyte (10)
Rebounds: Lindsay Copeland (8), Kim Tulloch (7)
Assists: Jill Humbert (7)
Russell Athletics player of the game: Lindsay DeGroot
Points: Joanna Zalesiak (26), Brittany Read (17), Rebecca Schmidt (9)
Rebounds: Brittany Read (15), Gabrielle Gheyssen (8)
Assists: Joanna Zalesiak (7)
Russell Athletics player of the game: Joanna Zalesiak
SCHEDULE & RESULTS
Friday, March 12
Quarter-final #1: Windsor 64, Ottawa 46
Quarter-final #2: Saskatchewan 70, Cape Breton 54
Quarter-final #3: Simon Fraser 94, McMaster 76
Quarter-final #4: Regina 69, Laval 54
Saturday, March 13
Consolation #1: Cape Breton 65, Ottawa 59
Consolation #2: Laval 66, McMaster 58
Semifinal #1: Windsor 82, Saskatchewan 60
Semifinal #2: Simon Fraser 69, Regina 55
Sunday, March 14
Consolation final (5th place): Cape Breton 86, Laval 49
Bronze medal: Saskatchewan 78, Regina 67
15:00 Championship final: No. 2 Windsor vs. No. 1 Simon Fraser (TSN2)