Jylisa Williams knew she'd caught the Waterloo Warriors attention.
Dropping 39 points in one's OUA debut tends to do that. Instead she decided to play decoy, a move that opened up the court for her Lakehead Thunderwolves teammates.
They answered the call.
Sure Williams followed up her dynamic debut with a double-double, scoring a game-best 17 points to go with 10 rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals in the 87-60 win.
But with the Warriors focusing their defence on keeping her from doing too much damage, Williams’ teammates stepped up and did a number on them too.
Pivot Essa Jacobsen, with a pair of junior high teams from her Minnesota hometown watching in the stands, added a double-double of her own, scoring 13 points while hauling in 12 board, 11 off the offensive glass. Guard Ayse Kalkan fell a rebound shy of a third double-double, collecting 14 points. Kelsey Bardsley hit four more three-pointers, while Katelyn Zen scored 10 points in just 12 minutes off the bench.
Jacobsen, who said she was more excited than nervous, said the new-look Thunderwolves are getting the job done.
“I think we’re pushing the ball quicker and we have more of a faster pace, so we’re going rather than settling down. That’s when we’re the best,” she said.
Of course, the arrival of Williams, forced by the OUA to sit out the first half of the season for eligibility reasons, is the main cog in the upbeat style of play.
The Atlanta native said she told her teammates they’d have to step up.
“I already knew the scouting report would be focused more on me and I knew my teammates would be open more. That definitely showed on the stats right here. All across the board it was double figures. Essa (had) a big game and a double-double. (Kelsey) had major threes. That’s OK. I’ll take that any day, rather than scoring 39 points. If they want to focus on me, I have other teammates who can put the ball into the hoop,” Williams said.
The Thunderwolves, who improved to 6-6, got off to another slow start, but quickly found their range and took the lead for good early in the first, propelled by seven points from the pumped up Jacobsen.
The second quarter wasn’t without its hiccups though.
After stretching their lead to 15, the Wolves went seven minutes without scoring and the Warriors clawed back, using a 9-0 run to pull within six.
LU guard Katie Ulakovic hit a buzzer-beating three to end the half and Lakehead scored eight straight to start the third, pushing their lead to 20 at 45-25.
It reached 26 by the third quarter’s end as the Wolves put up their second highest point total of 2013-14, two less than the 89 they scored the night before.
“Our team has more energy and more opportunities and more looks now,” LU coach Jon Kreiner said. “And we probably could have had a lot more points if we hadn’t missed all those lay-ups in the second and third quarters.”
The Wolves out-rebounded the Warriors 57-29, including a 27-6 edge in the offensive zone.
The players had some incentive to win that battle, Kreiner said, smiling.
“We told them if they didn’t crash the boards and you’re a three, four and five, that we were sprinting on Monday every time you didn’t do that. That’s probably part of it,” he said.
Kristen Osborne, with 12, was the high-scorer for Waterloo, who were out-scored in all four quarters.
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