Slow starts have plagued the Lakehead Thunderwolves all season long.
The trend struck again on Friday night.
The Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks raced out to an early 12-1 lead, pushed it to a 19-point difference by halftime and hammered the Wolves 71-59, LU’s only saving grace a 23-11 fourth-quarter redemption that makes winning the season split a little more plausible than the 24-point difference after 30 minutes.
Fifth-year guard Carolyn Fragale, who led all players with 25 points, said she’s at a loss to explain why the Wolves can’t seem to come out of the gate flying of late.
“I don’t know what the reason is for our slow starts, but it brings us down for the first half or the first quarter. And then we find a way to build it back up, but it’s too late. But I think we’ll have the momentum for tomorrow night’s game,” said Fragale, who buried five of seven shots from beyond the three-point arc and also managed to grab a team-high seven rebounds.
As any good leader would say, blaming others is not the right way to go. Instead Fragale said she plans to look within on Saturday as the Wolves attempt to stay relevant in the OUA West playoff hunt, a battle that sees four points separate third from seventh – only six teams make the post-season.
“I’m going to try to be a little bit more positive and I think it will run off from player to player,” Fragale said.
“And also, I think being more focused before the game starts (will help). Not being too confident or not being to complacent or scared to go in games (is important), because we can compete with teams. So I’m going to try build confidence and stay positive.”
With time running out in regular season play, just seven games remaining on the schedule, Fragale said none of the teams in the hunt, a group that includes both the Wolves (6-8) and the Golden Hawks (7-7), can afford to drop many more contests.
“It’s near the end of our season and we really want this playoff spot. We want to host a playoff game and still might be in contention. But tomorrow’s game, winning the split, will be huge for us and I’m proud we came out in the fourth quarter and we narrowed down the points for tomorrow’s game,” she said.
Looking at the game stats and the two teams were pretty even in most categories, the Hawks with a slight advantage shooting, 39.3 per cent to 31.3 per cent.
But it’s the intangibles that cost the Wolves the win, said coach Jon Kreiner afterward.
“For some reason we looked really slow. We looked like deer caught in the headlights and we weren’t sure what we were doing out there. We didn’t look very confident,” Kreiner said. “We just need to keep the game really simple. We were struggling in the first half with trying to do the things that we wanted to do. We weren’t very sharp defensively.”
Four Golden Hawks hit double figures, led by Kimberley Yeldon’s 16. Lee Anna Osei had 12, while Bree Chaput and Laura Doyle each chipped in 10. Yeldon also grabbed nine rebounds, one more than teammate Doreen Bonsu, the No. 15 rebounder in Canada.
Beyond the arc: Former LU star Lacey McNulty was in attendance at Friday’s game … Ashley Randall is back from an injured knee and had three points and three assists for the Thunderwolves ... Katie Ulakovic was key in the fourth, collecting six of her 10 points.
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