The Lakehead Thunderwolves caught the Western Mustangs women’s basketball team off guard on Friday night.
The Mustangs weren’t about to let it happen a second time.
A night after suffering an 18-point loss, Western rebounded Saturday night, led by sharpshooter Jenny Vaughan’s 24-point effort, and cruised to an 84-75 win at the Thunderdome.
It was Lakehead’s first loss of the second-half and snapped a three-game winning streak.
Guard Kelsey Bardsley, who tied Jylisa Williams with a team-high 19 points, said she and her teammates just couldn’t build any momentum.
“It was tough. We got bad calls from the ref, but we’ve just got to battle through that,” said Bardsley, who was 4-for-8 from beyond the three-point arc.
It’s a game she’s ready to put in the rear-view mirror, with a two-game road set next weekend at Brock starting the Thunderwolves in the face.
Lakehead and Brock are tied for fifth in the standings, and a sweep would go a long way to helping either team catch fourth-place McMaster and the possibility of hosting an opening-round playoff game. The win also helped the Wolves maintain a three-game gap between themselves and seventh-place Guelph, right now on outside looking in in a playoff race that will see just six teams advance.
Rebounding from the loss is all that matters now, she said.
“We’ve got to make sure we rest up, ice up, so we can get prepared mentally and become mentally tough enough to get through this.”
Coach Jon Kreiner said the Mustangs showed a lot of heart – and even more endurance. Western used just seven players in the contest, with four of their starters playing 36 minutes or more. Vaughan, who had seven steals, three assists and five boards while making 14 of 16 free throws, spent all 40 minutes on the court.
“All game long they took Jylisa out of the game with doubling her early on and getting her late for the clock. We were always playing from behind in possession,” Kreiner said.
“The fact that we were still able to score 75 points was remarkable. I think Bardsley really stepped up. Ayse (Kalkan) made a few mistakes, but she played real tough for us tonight; and just (Jylisa’s) will. We found a way to score tonight. It wasn’t her shooting or her offensive play. Defensively we struggled.”
Western took a 20-19 lead after the opening quarter and pushed it to six at the half. Bardsley dropped back-to-back threes to open the third to tie the game, and went up two on a Jessica de Haan basket that put Lakehead in front 41-39.
But the lead was short-lived. Melissa Rondinelli, one of four Mustangs to finish in double figures, responded with a three, igniting a 13-1 run that had Western threatening to run away and hide. LU’s Blair McNaughton hit a three-pointer to pull the Wolves within four, but the Western lead hit 11 by quarter’s end.
Lakehead found itself in foul trouble in the fourth, both Bardsley and de Haan fouling out down the stretch.
Williams drew LU to within seven with a steal, but was called for a technical that sent the ever-steady Vaughan to the line and the lead was quickly 11 again.
Katie Ulakovic pulled the Wolves to within six in the final two minutes, but Mackenzie Puklicz responded with her fifth three-pointer of the night, pushing the game out of reach.
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