Last Wednesday, the UTM Eagles women’s varsity basketball team had a showdown against Conestoga College. The first instalment of this year’s homecoming didn’t disappoint the hundreds of fans that attended the high-calibre event in the main gym. The Eagles dominated Conestoga, taking the game 71-50.
The first quarter started off with an intense style of play, as UTM persisted with their leaking-out method, where long cross-court passes allowed fast runners like first-year life science student, Jade Addai, to dribble to the basket for a lay-up. Addai finished this contest with 15 points, second place to Caitlin Azzalini’s 20 points.
Conestoga was physical, and took advantage of open space whenever they could for a shot. Three-pointers and fouls were aplenty, setting up the contest to be an entertaining match.
As the women began to settle into the rhythm of the game and their defensive strategy solidified, UTM made a few sloppy plays in the other end, conceding four straight points. But thanks to an Azzalini-three-pointer, the Eagles were able to keep the lead, 15-11, going into the second quarter.
Two consecutive three-pointers and a two-point lay-up by Azzalini had the women up by double digits at the 7:27 mark. An extended portion of the middle of the second quarter saw no points scored by UTM and 11 scored by Conestoga, allowing them to creep back into the game. Priyanka Mehla made the basket that broke the long streak of missed opportunities. Addai followed by making a basket and free throw, allowing her team to maintain the 30-24 lead headed into the second half.
Daesi Reale scored the Eagles’ first points of the half from deep behind the three-point line. Conestoga’s Jazi Folger was an essential piece for her team’s defense. On numerous occasions, she gathered the loose ball and sent her players running to the other end of the court, and also led her team in fouls given. It was “downtown city” again in the third quarter, with Reale and Sarah-May Edwardo sinking consecutive shots. Even though UTM was dominating for most of the game, they saw themselves up by only three, 44-41 going into the final frame.
The fourth quarter was all UTM. They are a very consistent fourth-quarter team that typically shuts down their opposition, leading them to a win with a large margin. Significant contributors to the fourth-quarter dominance were Ashley Beckles and Adesola Adesina, who, in the midst of taking fouls, still managed to exert their strength and make their shots. Beckles was a physical force for the Eagles. She won the majority of the battles for UTM because of her strong athletic ability.
Addai, a player whose quickness is a valuable asset to the team, had a lot of positive feedback on the Eagles efforts. “We played really well, and it’s because we worked well together, making sure we took the best shot.” She added, giving the reason as to why her team is such a dominant force in the fourth-quarter: “It’s because we’re all able to notice each other’s strengths and weaknesses throughout the first three quarters. We come together using just our strengths in the fourth quarter. It was a good shooting day, and everyone knew where they needed to be, so that helps.”