by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
The Windsor Lancers women’s basketball team finished in third place and rookie guard Kayah Clarke was named a first-team all-star at the 2016 Darcel Wright Memorial tournament in Toronto this past weekend.
Windsor defeated the UBC Thunderbirds in the opening round 63-57 but dropped the semi-final to the McMaster Marauders 95-78, watching six players register double-digit scoring while nearly hitting the century mark on Windsor’s defense. In the bronze medal game, the Lancers regrouped and rose up to defeat the defending CIS national champion Saskatchewan Huskies 70-65. Clarke was named a tournament all-star after she averaged over 15 points per contest.
Lancers head coach Chantal Vallee said she was glad to beat two Canada West teams but was concerned about their loss to Mac.
“[Saskatchewan] is the defending CIS champs, they’ve got two very good recruits from the junior national team and they play excellent basketball. We challenged our players after the loss and it’s not just that we lost to Mac – we got 95 points scored on us,” said Vallee. “We said we were going to go there and keep teams within 60 and 70 points. But our players responded and we’re happy about that but not happy about what happened [against McMaster.].”
Against UBC, senior guard Caitlyn Longmuir co-led the team in scoring with 18 points alongside Clarke in a 63-57 opening-round win. Windsor had a productive first half against the Marauders and held a 41-33 lead at intermission but were met with an offensive barrage in the second. McMaster outscored Windsor 62-37 in the final 20 minutes to earn a convincing win over their OUA rival.
In the bronze medal game, Windsor took a 36-29 lead at halftime and outlasted the defending national champions for a 70-65 victory. Lancers captain Emily Prevost led the charge with 22 points and 10 rebounds – both game highs – while Clark scored 19 and Carly Steer scored 16.
Led by all-Canadian guard Danielle Boiago, McMaster moved on to win the championship game 55-47 over the host Ryerson Rams on their home court to take the tournament title.
“McMaster is a very strong team and they are still missing a very good player so they are going to be a force in the league,” said Vallee. “We were ahead all the way into the third and we definitely collapsed at the end. They wanted it more then we did and they destroyed us, plain and simple.”
In additional news, Lancers lost the services of 6’3″ fourth year forward Cheyanne Roger just two minutes into the game against the Huskies and is expected to miss an extended amount of time pending medical evaluation.
“It looks to be a severe sprain so she’ll be out for a while but to come back and win without her was a good show of heart from the team,” said Vallee. “I don’t think we trailed once in the game but it never got out of hand either, they were always right behind us. We did not win the fourth quarter again and I don’t like that. We need to be more mentally focused and continue to work on our fitness and how we finish games.”
With their experience in Toronto behind them, the Windsor women now look to close out their preseason with a match-up against the Wayne State Warriors from Detroit, M.I., Oct. 29.
The Lancers open the season the road in Northern Ontario against Laurentian and Nipissing Nov. 11 and 12 but will return for their home-opener Nov. 16 against the Guelph Gryphons at Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse.