Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
© Dave Chidley
Kristine LaLonde (right) of the University of Windsor Lancers tries to stop Justine Colley of Saint Mary's University Huskies, in gold medal game action at the CIS Women's National Basketball Championship tournament, Sunday March 16, 2014 in Windsor, Ontario.
It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
Not after an undefeated season in which the Saint Mary’s Huskies bulldozed their way to Sunday’s CIS women’s final in Windsor.
But on this night, they met their match. It wasn’t even close, and the No.1 ranked Windsor Lancers beat up on the No. 2 ranked team in the country in a crushing 71-45 victory, for their fourth straight national title.
“It’s painful, for sure,” said head coach Scott Munro. “But all the credit today goes to Windsor. They’re a very good basketball team that knows how to win. They are not four time champs for no reason.
“Playing in their barn was a tough test. We struggled to rebound the basketball, which didn’t give us a good transition game. Windsor was the best team today, no question.”
In the end, the Huskies couldn’t handle a bigger, stronger team that outrebounded the Huskies 60-25. Led by Jessica Clemencon’s 19 points, the Lancers took control early, grabbing a 17-9 lead entering the second quarter, and from there they didn’t look back.
Back-to-back CIS player of the year Justine Colley led the Huskies with 20 points and was the only player on her squad to reach double digits in scoring.
Coming off a remarkable 38-point performance in the Huskies’ semifinal win against the Saskatchewan Huskies on Saturday, Colley couldn’t carry her team to victory this time.
After a brilliant five-year run with the Huskies, the East Preston native will walk away from her varsity career as the CIS’ all-time leading scorer.
It came as bitter disappointment that Munro couldn’t see Colley end her fine career with a national title.
“Losing is never fun. To get this close to a national championship and not be able to cash it in is difficult to take. We would have loved to get it done for Justine. But that’s sport.”
But what a remarkable season it was. Boasting a record off 33-1, the Huskies clawed their way to the club’s first ever CIS final appearance.
In his disappointment, Munro tried to accentuate the positives.
“We lost the wrong game. It’s a heck of a season to have a run like we did. It’s not something that we’re going to be happy about today, but as time goes on, we’ll reflect and realize it was a season for the ages.
“We gave it everything we had. It just wasn’t good enough.”