In rare Wednesday night action, the UNB Saint John Seawolves hosted the first place women’s basketball team in the ACAA, the St. Thomas Tommies.
From the get-go, the game was quick-paced and evenly fought basket for basket.
Behind 24-23 three minutes into the second quarter, the Seawolves made a push off of a Rachel Jefferson lay-up where the Tommies were also called for a foul.
Soon enough, the home side pushed ahead of the visiting Tommies to create a lead of 37-34 at the end of the first half, leading the league leaders into the intermission.
Second year Seawolf Allyson McLaughlin led the home side with 10 points in 8:40 of playing time during the first half.
Seawolves captain Emily Dowling was a stalwart on defense with 6 defensive rebounds throughout the first two quarters.
While the home side was aggressive and did not give up on plays, the home crowd was witness to the best passing the ladies have produced all season.
Leading the Tommies 51-50 at end of third quarter, the Seawolves began to succumb to a rejuvenated Tommies team who dropped successive three point efforts to take the lead for the first time since the first quarter, to make the game 55-54 in favour of the visitors.
In the fourth quarter, the Seawolves’ defense began to loosen, and along with that, their passing and their subsequent quality of shots began to decrease.
The league leaders took full advantage of these squanders, and made two three point shots that the Seawolves defense could not thwart, amounting to the difference between a win and loss for the UNB Saint John team.
Even though Rachel Jefferson greeted the end-of-the-game buzzer making a three point shot, it was too little too late for the Seawolves.
However, for a Seawolves team who have registered a 1-11 record on the season, three positives specifically can be drawn from this close game.
One, the Seawolves were persistent. For the majority of the game, they went after every rebound offensively and defensively. More importantly, collectively, they did not give up on plays that from the bleachers seemed lost, that led to many near scoring opportunities, and several well-finished plays that looked like Swiss clockwork – impeccable.
Second, as a team, they endured mistakes. Earlier in the season, when they started playing poorly, they would often give in to lessening the pressure on their opponents. But the Seawolves did not do this tonight: they endured through the mistakes to allow themselves after to make good plays.
Third, in my five years at UNB Saint John, this women’s team is the first I have witnessed to have a legitimate creative chemistry emerge. When the basketball bounced oddly or a pass went awry, the ladies on the court let instinct take over to create some pretty spectacular plays.
This is one of the losses that looked more like a win for the Seawolves. And I would dare to state that this 67-63 loss was a win because the ladies have shown they are going to not only be a team that competes in the future, but a team that will play the league leaders and win.