TORONTO (U SPORTS) – The No. 3 Saskatchewan Huskies outscored the No. 6 Acadia Axewomen 77-69 in the second quarterfinal of the day to advance to the national semifinal.
The Axewomen warmed to the court quickly and led the Huskies 12-8 by the midpoint of the first quarter. The battle heated up as the Huskies found a new sense of urgency and trailed the Axewomen 14-13 at the end of the opening frame.
"We wanted to give Saskatchewan all they could handle," said Acadia head coach, Len Harvey. "I feel pretty good about that, I think we did, for sure."
The second quarter opened with a number of turnovers, but the Huskies maintained their pace to earn a 28-25 lead over Acadia midway through the second. The Huskies then dominated the court, showing off their technical and strategic abilities to shut down the Axewomen and lead 38-28 at halftime.
"I think we did throw the kitchen sink at them, but the run in the second quarter really broke the game open for them," said Harvey. "I'm proud of us, we could have easily folded up after that, you know the mystique of the Huskies."
The Huskies weren't afraid to take chances and drive hard to the net. They kept the ball moving, and their offensive performance earned them a number of chances. At the other end, the Huskies were ready to defend against the Axewomen, who continued to put up a fight. Acadia couldn't seem to buy the bounce around the rim and despite a couple of three-balls, the Huskies remained in control to lead after the third 62-51.
Into the fourth, the Axewomen came out shooting every chance they got. With a number of successful three-point shots, Acadia was able to minimize the gap and maintain consistent pressure over the Huskies. Halfway through the frame, the Huskies were up 67-57 to continue the battle to the final buzzer. Summer Masikewich (Calgary, Alta.) continued to find the basket, tallying a game-high 25 points.
"I think that obviously we had to get some jitters out, first National game, and after halftime I think we came out super strong," said Masikewich. "We just have to hold that for 40 minutes. At times, it was a little too close to comfort, you know when it gets to that foul, timeout, we knew that we were too close. But that's good stuff, it prepares us for games coming up."
The Axewomen then found a new sense of urgency and pushed hard to close the gap. At a timeout called by the Huskies, the Axewomen only trailed 67-62, and took advantage of a foul to make it 67-64 with two minutes remaining. Jayda Veinot (Port Williams, N.S.) came out hard on the offence, totaling a final of 22 points. But the Huskies had some fight left in them to beat the Axewomen 77-69.
"A lot of times the first game of Nationals is the toughest one. You kind of have these expectations of how your team can play and your opponent might have something to say about it and I thought Acadia played hard, they made things difficult for us today," said Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis. "They can really shoot it from the three…we built a lead and just couldn't put them away. So credit to Acadia, they kept coming back and had a lot of fight left in them."
Acadia is scheduled to play Concordia in a consolation semifinal on Friday at 6:00 p.m. ET / 3:00 p.m. PT. The Huskies will play McMaster in the semifinals Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. ET live on Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet Now and TVA Sports.
"I think we need to come out stronger right off the tip and that's a goal for all of us and hold off the 40 minutes, because I think we lose it in spots, and to win a National Championship you need to play the full 40 minutes," said Masikewich. "I think that's going to be a focus for us, especially defensively."
Players of the Game
Saskatchewan: Summer Masikewich
Acadia: Jayda Veinot