Two possessions swung McMaster’s tense OUA quarter final against Western Saturday, tipping the scales fatally in favour of the host Marauders.
Leading by just a single point with three and a half minutes to play, McMaster saw the pair of rookie guard Sarah Gates and veteran forward Linnaea Harper knock down threes on consecutive possessions to put the game, and a spot in the semi finals on February 28, beyond Western’s reach.
The dual daggers helped the OUA West’s top seed to a 61-51 victory, as the Marauders eliminated the Mustangs in a conference quarter final for the second consecutive season.
With the win, McMaster earned another home appearance, as they will play host to the lowest remaining seed in the OUA East in a conference semi final at Burridge Gym on Wednesday, February 28. Tip off for that game is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. with the opponent to be determined at the conclusion of Saturday’s remaining quarter final games.
Harper’s perfectly-timed execution from three-point range was part of a tidy, 18-point performance that led the game. She was seven of 11 from the floor for the afternoon and a perfect two of two from beyond the arc, but did much of her damage in a clutch fourth-quarter cameo, shooting three of five for seven points in McMaster’s lockdown quarter.
Mustangs star Mackenzie Puklicz was the visitors’ leading scorer in a losing effort, with 15 points on seven of 20 from the floor, but crucially hit just one of 10 attempts from three-point range Saturday.
Their inefficiency from beyond the arc was a persistent problem for Western throughout the quarter final, as the Mustangs made just three of 22 three-point attempts as a group (13.6 per cent).
By contrast, McMaster shot 40 per cent from long range, hitting six of 15 attempts as a team, led by two each from Harper and Gates.
Unable to cause trouble for the Marauders in the paint, the Mustangs had just two free throw attempts in the loss, hitting neither, while their hosts made good on 13 of 18 attempts from the stripe.
Saturday’s win was McMaster’s fifth-straight against Western, and marked the second consecutive year in which the Marauders had eliminated the Mustangs from the postseason, having beaten them 82-54 at the quarter final stage a year ago.
Source: Fraser Caldwell