After reaching historic heights in 2018-19, the Marauders women’s basketball team were appropriately recognized by the OUA Wednesday.
The conference named the team as the Female Team of the Year during its year-ending Honour Awards at a banquet held in Burlington, Ont.
McMaster shared the honour with the Guelph Gryphons women’s hockey team, which similarly won a national title over the winter.
Compiling a 21-3 record in conference play, the Marauders earned the top seed in the OUA West division and a bye through the opening round of the conference playoffs. From there, McMaster easily dispatched the Brock Badgers 81-70 and the Carleton Ravens 73-58 to return to the Critelli Cup final for a second consecutive season.
Facing a road contest against the top-ranked team in the country, the Marauders navigated a tightly-fought encounter with the Ottawa Gee-Gees to secure a 79-75 win and the fifth OUA title in program history. Given their conference success, McMaster was rewarded with the second seed at the U SPORTS Championship in Toronto.
Comfortably easing past the seventh-seeded Concordia Stingers 86-66 at the quarterfinal stage, the Marauders returned to the national semifinals for just the third time in their history, having never before won one of those games.
They erased that particular bit of trivia with a 73-66 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies, to book their spot in the national final for the first time.
Blowing open that final in the fourth quarter, McMaster ultimately out-dueled Laval 70-58 to win the Bronze Baby as national champions for the first time, and saw forward Linnaea Harper honoured as the Tournament MVP after the fact.
Individually, McMaster saw Harper and fellow senior Hilary Hanaka named OUA First Team All-Stars, while second-year guard Sarah Gates cracked the Second Team. Hanaka won the conference’s Joy Bellinger Award for her charitable work off court, and subsequently took home the Sylvia Sweeney Award at the national level while being named a Second Team All-Canadian.
Source: Fraser Caldwell