While the world prepared for Superbowl Sunday, UTM’s tri-campus basketball team prepared for their own big game.
On this mild afternoon, I watched from the sidelines as my former teammates warmed up for their semifinal game against St. George Black. With more than half the team comprising rookies, I was excited to see the fresh additions to the team.
UTM looked to redeem themselves after losing to this team just weeks ago. With UTM ranked second and St. George Black ranked third, this was an even matchup.
The Eagles’ defence was the key factor in this game. They put the pressure on early with a full-court press that St. George just could not break, forcing turnovers and converting them into buckets.
In the second half, St. George picked up an 8–0 scoring run early on to break UTM’s lead.
The pace of the game escalated, with numerous lead changes. The atmosphere in the RAWC was thrilling: parents, friends, and fans occupied the stands and filled the air with chants.
With only 10.8 seconds remaining and a two-point deficit, the Eagles needed to make a move. Coach Jack Krist called the girls in for their final timeout to organize a game strategy: a perfectly executed sideline inbound play to shooting guard Ashley Nguyen, who dished it to teammate Katie Bora for an uncontested layup to tie the game.
The energy from the fans was contagious, and it translated into superb game play from the players in overtime. St. George Black could not recover.
UTM controlled the pace, led by fourth-year point guard Micheline Khan, who stepped up to score ten of her thirteen points in the last minutes of the game. Beside her, rookie guard Meghan McErlain also contributed crucial plays to seal the lead.
“The ladies just executed that last play to perfection,” said Krist after the game. “The girls hustled and everybody played their roles.”
UTM will face St. George Blue in the finals next Sunday, February 12.