Katie Ulakovic said the chance to take over fourth place in the OUA West was in the back of the Thunderwolves minds Saturday night.
It still doesn’t excuse Lakehead’s slow start, the third-year guard said.
Outgunned by Danielle Boiago’s 22-point effort – the Hamilton native scored McMaster’s first eight points of the night – the visiting Marauders cruised to a 72-63 Thunderdome triumph, earning a weekend split and securing the tiebreaker against the fifth-place Thunderwolves.
“It’s too bad we couldn’t get this win because it would have put us in a really good spot, but I know we gave it our all and it’s just unfortunate,” Ulakovic said after a 14-point night.
It was definitely weighing on their minds, she said, but it wasn’t the reason the pink-clad Thunderwolves lost.
“I think it was in the back of our minds, but I honestly thought we were all pretty focused. Maybe it was just bad luck,” she said.
“We did have a bad start. We actually won the second half of that game. We kind of dug ourselves a hole in the first half, which didn’t help our situation.”
The loss dropped the Wolves back to .500 again at 9-9, tied for fifth place in the OUA West with the Brock Badgers.
By focusing on stopping Boiago and pivot Hailey Milligan – who managed 12 points anyway – it cost the Wolves in other ways.
“The other players we needed to cheat our way off of and I guess it just didn’t work for us.”
It was Elizabeth Burns who caught the Wolves napping down the stretch. Playing with four fouls, the Wolves having cut a 17-point third-quarter deficit to just seven, Burns scored six key points coming home.
More importantly, she started drawing fouls of her own.
LU’s Jylisa Williams, who topped the Thunderwolves with 19 points and 11 rebounds, fouled out with 2:19 to go, costing Lakehead it’s go-to player when they needed her the most, trailing 68-59.
It was disappointing all-around performance said rookie forward Katelyn Andrea.
“We kind of started the game flat today. We didn’t come out with as much energy as we did yesterday. Our intensity was a little less. I think throughout the game we pulled it together, but we came up short at the end because of our poor start,” said Andrea, who finished with eight points and four rebounds.
Coach Jon Kreiner said McMaster solved its own problems. After making 25 turnovers in Friday’s 52-46 loss, they only made 13 in Saturday’s rematch.
“We had some key turnovers in the first couple of quarters and at the same time when we tried to pressure, Mac was a lot more ready for us tonight and they were able to move the ball and they cut down on their turnovers,” Kreiner said.
“That was their main difference in the ballgame tonight. There were a few other things as well.”
The Wolves, who can clinch a playoff spot with a sweep next weekend on the road, travel to Laurier to take on the Golden Hawks on Friday and Saturday night.
Beyond the arc: The Thunderwolves wore bright pink uniforms to celebrate their annual Shoot for the Cure fundraisers. Over the past six seasons the team has collected more than $26,700 for breast cancer research.
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