Their playoff hopes are not dead by any means.
But the Lakehead Thunderwolves women's basketball team did itself no favours Saturday night, falling 65-55 to an equally hungry Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks squad.
LU’s big three, Ayse Kalkan, Carloyn Fragale and Katie Ulakovic, combined to shoot 9-39 from the field for just 25 points, as many as the fifth-year Fragale managed a night earlier in another losing effort for the 6-9 Thunderwolves.
Winta Desta, who netted a career-high 16 points for the Thunderwolves, providing an inside threat they’ve been missing most of the season, said the weekend sweep at the Thunderdome is crushing, but they know they have more chances to work their way into the playoff picture.
“Of course we’re really upset about the loss. We worked hard, but we didn’t work hard enough throughout the game and we let them have three big runs, the biggest being closer to the end of the game,” said the second-year forward from Ottawa.
“We tried to fight back but we didn’t have enough time to get back to where we wanted to be, so we just need to be more consistent. That’s what our coach is telling us – consistent hard work all throughout the game. We really need to start piecing that together.”
A night after staking the Hawks to a 12-1 lead, the Wolves took control in the first, building a 12-8 lead, half the points coming from Desta.
But the Golden Hawks' Bree Chaput, who led all scorers with 17, sandwiched hoops around an Amber Hillis basket and Laurier escaped the first with a 14-12 lead.
They extended it by five in the second, then walloped the Wolves 22-13 in the third to go up 16, too much for LU to rally from.
“We had a good start. I was happy with our adjustments. I was happy we were playing a lot more physical. Realistically Laurier was better than us and that was the difference,” said Lakehead coach Jon Kreiner, whose team is alone in sixth place, two points ahead of Guelph for the final playoff berth in the OUA West.
The Thunderwolves, who have lost three of four, travel to Guelph next weekend.
“The one positive thing about our weekend and our lack of helping ourselves is that Guelph is also losing all their games as well,” Kreiner said. “And we’re playing them, so it comes down to us playing Guelph this weekend.
“We’ve really got to go in there and take two wins against Guelph and that’s basically our season.”
For Laurier, the rare sweep in Thunder Bay was a huge relief and vaulted them into a third-place tie with Western at 8-7.
“This is a huge win,” said Chaput, who also had three rebounds and three assists.
“We came in here tied with them and this puts us four points ahead of them in the standings, which is just huge. The OUA West this year is just so tight. So these two wins are just so crucial at this point on the season. And coming in here and beating Lakehead twice in their own gym was a goal of ours because we haven’t done it for at least the last five years.”
Laurier pushed their lead as high as 21 in the third, but never let it slip below double digits the rest of the way.
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