The Memorial University women’s basketball team extended their Atlantic University Conference (AUS) worst losing streak to six games after a pair of hard fought games in New Brunswick against the UNB Varsity Reds. Despite a tight fourth quarter that saw them lose the opening contest 55-61, the Sea-Hawks were unable to build any momentum into the second day, dropping the follow-up 69-82.
The Sea-Hawks put together an impressive defensive effort early, catching the Varsity Reds somewhat unaware. MUN tracked their opponents well, chasing the normally effective three point shooters of UNB off the arc and rushing their shots. Indeed, Memorial forced their opponents into 1-11 three point shooting, while top opposing scorer Grace Wade, the only UNB starter to score double digits (13), went just 5-15 in 36 minutes of action. The Sea-Hawks, led by Sydney Stewart’s 15 and Sydney Ezekiel’s 11, posted a rare stat on the day—every one of the 11 players dressed by Memorial for the contest were on the score sheet. In the end, however, it was an accumulation of turnovers which the Varsity Reds made few mistakes in capitalizing on, that cost the Sea-Hawks a potential victory—21 of UNB’s 61 points came from 28 Memorial turnovers. The stronger bench of UNB also outscored Memorial’s reserves 23-12.
In the second match-up between the sides, Memorial leaned heavy on Stewart to control the game, feeding the offence through her hands. Collecting five steals to go along with a game-high 25 points, Stewart continued to get to the line, although her 8-13 performance from the charity stripe indicates room for improvement. Though the game was less lopsided in the turnover department, the Lady-Hawks were often out-muscled down low, getting outscored in the paint 32-16 and losing the rebound battle 37-27. Stewart’s opposing play-maker Wade had an inspired effort for the home side, scoring 20 with six steals and finishing just one assist shy of a double-double. The Sea-Hawks scored 36 points in the fourth, their best quarter of the season, but by then had dug a hole too deep to emerge from. The balanced scoring of UNB, with three starters in double figures and two on nine points, was not mirrored by the Sea-Hawks, as Brooklynn Wright and Rebecca Amo-Mensah failed to make a meaningful impact on a game in which the Sea-Hawks never led.
Memorial (1-13) are still searching for a winning formula, trying to bring some consistency to a difficult season. Meanwhile UNB (9-5) move into the upper half of the conference table, strengthening their grip on a playoff spot. Around the conference, Acadia (14-0) improved its spotless record by besting Dalhousie (5-9) in their only game of the weekend.
Mathematically, the Sea-Hawks are not eliminated from playoff contention, but in order to sneak in to the post-season, they will need to go on a run sooner rather than later. The Sea-Hawks exhibit both the defensive and offensive work rates of a much better team, but finding a way to execute both consistently while minimizing mistakes will be key going forward. The weekend’s games represent a positive foundation on which to build, and the resilient Sea-Hawks, who have coped with their share of adversity this season, will look to change their fortunes as they return home for another crack at a team well within striking range standings wise.
The Lady-Hawks next return home to take on the Dalhousie Tigers at the Field House February 6/7. Tip-offs are at 6:00 PM and 11:00 AM respectively.