They played the perfect third quarter.
It’s the fourth that was nothing to write home about.
After suffocating the Brock Badgers offense to start the second half, taking a tie game and building an 11-point lead as the fourth quarter began, it all fell to pieces Saturday night for the Lakehead Thunderwolves.
The Wolves, on the verge of upsetting the No. 7 team in the country, a team that hadn’t lost in 10 outings, saw their shooting go silent. Lakehead didn’t manage a single field goal in the final 10 minutes, scoring once on a free throw and the Badgers stormed back with an 18-1 fourth to claim an 52-46 victory at the Thunderdome.
“I don’t think we were able to do the things we did earlier in the game for two reasons, one of the reasons I can’t talk about. That second reason is because of Brock. They played absolutely great, pressure defence,” said Wolves coach Jon Kreiner.
“We turned the ball over and they got lay-ups.”
It helped that one of Brock’s two go-to players decided to rejoin the contest as the fourth quarter began. The Wolves, until that point, had held both Kayla Santilli and Nicole Rosenkranz relatively silent. Santilli shouted her presence in a hurry with the game on the line.
The Brantford, Ont. native hit a three-pointer to start the comeback, drove to the hoop for two more, then buried another trey, a solo 8-0 run that pulled the Badgers to within three, 45-42.
After Ayse Kalkan, the game’s leading point-getter with 19, missed a pair of free throws, Rosenkranz stepped to the line and hit both her free throws, making it a one-point game.
Santilli, who finished with 17, hit the go-ahead basket with 3:50 to play, a lead they never relinquished.
“They played real hard, they took some things away from us and we didn’t do a real good job adjusting until the fourth quarter when I thought today we kind of responded as a team,” Brock coach Si Kjounviseth said.
“The difference was defensively we made some adjustments and then offensively what they were taking away. They played real hard tonight … and credit goes to them. We escaped with one, that’s all I can say.”
The Wolves won the opening quarter and were tied 24-24 at the half. But while their outside shooting paid off in the first 20 minutes, it disappeared in the final 20. Lakehead hit just one of seven three-pointers, and had difficulty penetrating inside against the Badgers, who routinely forced the Wolves to take desperation shots as the shot clock wound down – if they even managed to get one off before the buzzer sounded.
“We made some bad decisions, we rotated the wrong people. But we’ve got to take that experience and learn from it and get better,” Kreiner said.
Fourth-place Lakehead (5-6) hits the road next weekend for a pair against third-place Western (6-5).
Beyond the arc: The Thunderwolves wore pink uniforms in celebration of their annual Shoot for the Cure fundraiser for breast cancer research. The men's and women's teams raised more than $5,000 ... Forward Ashley Randall (knee) said she hopes to be back practicing by next week and back in the lineup within a month. She did not play this weekend.
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