Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Lakehead's Lacey McNulty (right) brushes past Ryerson's Skye Johns on Saturday night at the C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse.
The Ryerson Rams managed to hang with the Lakehead Thunderwolves for 20 minutes.
And they played even with them in the fourth. It was the third quarter Saturday night they'd like to forget.
Powered by the one-two tandem of Lindsay Druery and Lacey McNulty, the Wolves out-scored the Rams 28-18 in the decisive third, using the double-digit lead to propel the team to a 77-66 home-court win, their third straight.
Returning hometown playmaker Carolyn Fragale, who starred at St. Ignatius before heading off to Algoma University for three seasons, said the Thunderwolves were still stoked from their triumph the night before and running on adrenaline.
"We were really excited to be at home and play another game, coming off a huge win for us, considering (Toronto) in eighth in Canada," said Fragale, who had 14 points, including a pair of three-pointers.
"At half we weren't too happy with our performance, but we were happy with our ball movement and stuff. And then we finally started hitting our posts, which is what we need to do. We've got two great posts, we've just got to find them."
Without their bigs, the Wolves would be in plenty of trouble, Fragale added.
"They're a big presence for us. Our coach actually said in the locker room afterward that there's no other team that has two great posts like that, who can handle the ball. They can pretty much do everything. They're versatile players," Fragale said.
Kreiner said there's no doubt McNulty and Druery were the difference, in a game that saw Ryerson's all-star guard Ashley MacDonald, the OUA's leading scorer, put up 29 points, including 18 in the first half alone.
"I really think our post game in the third quarter, at the beginning of the second half, Lindsay and Lacey, they were the difference in the game. They scored 28 points and those two scored 20 points, I think, in the first five minutes together.
"That was what we talked about and we were able to execute, which was nice ... When they're playing well together. When they're taking care of the basketball, we're a real tough team to stop."
The two teams battled back and forth in the first two quarters, but it was Kelsey Bardsley who got the last laugh for Lakehead, hitting a three in the dying seconds of the half to give Lakehead a 35-34 lead. Ryerson regained a one-point lead to start the third, but the Wolves reeled off 10 straight to go up nine.
MacDonald the Rams kept hanging around, drawing to within seven midway through the fourth, but Druery had the answer again, and even after she fouled out with four minutes to play, Lakehead was able to hang on as the game went to the free-throw line where the Wolves hit six-of-eight down the stretch.
"We clicked as a team more tonight. More people were getting assists. The posts were getting assists and the defence sparked our offence," Bardsley said.
Lakehead, in a three-way tie for second in the OUA West at 3-1, hosts Ottawa and Carleton next weekend at the Thunderdome.