Last Sunday afternoon, the UTM Eagles women’s varsity basketball team hoped to win their second game of the new year, and the eighth game of their season.
Ahead of them were the Algonquin Thunder who sit at the top of the OCAA standings and remain undefeated, with a record of 9-0 going into the game. In their previous encounter, the Eagles lost to the Thunder 74-80 in a tough game in Algonquin. Albeit their best efforts, the task of beating the Thunder was too tall an order.
The game looked promising in its early stages for UTM as they came out of the gate with a 5-0 run. The Eagles did not allow their opponents to score for three straight minutes and were finding open teammates for a good selection of shots. The Thunder sunk three three-pointers in a row, and an 11-0 run forced UTM to call a timeout halfway through the first quarter. UTM came out of the timeout looking to find some rhythm inside, repeatedly looking for drives to the basket and foul calls to grind away at the lead. Algonquin’s play gave them the lead after the first ten minutes of play, 12-23.
Both teams traded baskets for the first half of the second quarter. Algonquin played very tough defence, causing the Eagles to throw away possessions due to shot-clock violations and lack of open teammates. An aggressive style of play however sent the Eagles to the line repeatedly, and into the bonus with four minutes of play remaining in the quarter. UTM saw themselves successfully chipping away at the lead, getting it down to six. Algonquin then went on to score quick baskets, but Jade Addai surged life into the Eagles by scoring a tough basket and getting a block on the fast break to end the half, 32-44.
Jade Addai kept her momentum from the first half going; using her quickness to score a flurry of layups for UTM. On the other end, Algonquin used their size to continue finding shots under the rim and their quality showed as they continued to finish their possessions. The Thunder decided to incorporate another style of defence to start the second half of play, frequently double teaming and using help defence to cause UTM to make quicker decisions. This sped up the game, and UTM had trouble adjusting to the higher tempo that their opponents forced. Algonquin took an 18-point lead going into the fourth quarter, 66-48.
With only one quarter left, the door was closing on UTM’s hopes of winning. While the Eagles were forcing turnovers and making shots of their own, time was too big of a factor to overcome. In the winding moments of the game however, motivation never left the Eagles’ side and they continued to play until the final buzzer.
UTM lost to Algonquin for the second time of the season, 86-62.
UTM on the offensive side was streaky against Algonquin, finding moments of high-volume scoring and moments of no scoring at all. Defensively, UTM applied pressure effectively, causing the opposing side to turn the ball over several times. When it came to contesting shots however, UTM could not stop Algonquin’s offence.
The Eagles record dropped to 7-3, but they shouldn’t lose motivation from dropping a game to an undefeated Algonquin Thunder that sits at the top of the OCAA standings.