The University of New Brunswick (UNB) Varsity Reds women’s basketball team played two very different games on the weekend against the Acadia Axewomen.
On Friday night, the Varsity Reds had difficulty putting the ball through the hoop, only shooting 24 per cent in the first half, but still were able to muster up a one-point lead at the end of the first.
“We just couldn’t get our shots to fall today,” said third-year post Rachel Cleary.
Cleary played a major part in keeping the game close in the third quarter. Six of her 18 points came from back to back and ones near the end of the third quarter, and at the end of the quarter the Reds still had a one-point lead.
In the fourth, Acadia took over.
“They hit some pretty tough shots down the stretch,” said head coach Jeff Speedy, whose hair was dyed pink in support of breast cancer. “And we’ve got to figure out a way to get those key stop in the fourth quarter when we need them.”
Abby Duinker dominated down low, leading the way for the Axewomen with a game high of 26 points. She also added five assists and six rebounds in the winning effort.
“We knew they were pretty big and that we could run on them,” said Cleary. “We just had to box out and hopefully that would be enough.”
The score was 69-66 for Acadia, and UNB had the ball with 29 seconds left, but they weren’t able to convert. Acadia went on to win 73-66.
“I’m not sure I can put it into words how frustrating it is,” said Speedy. “It’s been the same movie seven games in a row. It’s getting tough to take.”
UNB’s strongest facet of their game was their work at the free throw line, hitting all 18 of their shots there.
“If we’re going to make a lot of free throws we better attack the basket more and stop settling for threes,” said Speedy.
The game was part of UNB’s Think Pink weekend, which raised money to fight cancer. Speedy’s hair wasn’t the only thing pink on the weekend: instead of their usual jerseys, the women wore pink jerseys and the games were played with a pink basketball. Multiple UNB athletes raised money and got their hair cut for the cause, including Cleary.
“I decided last year when I saw the girls doing it, so I just let my hair grow longer so I could do it this year,” said Cleary. “Hopefully this will help someone else.”
Cleary raised $385, and had her hair cut at halftime of the men’s game on Friday.
The second game of the weekend was a whole different story for the Varsity Reds. UNB once again played Acadia, but this time they came out ready.
“Our defence was a lot better than yesterday,” said Speedy. “We made them miss a lot of shots and did a good job rebounding when they missed.”
Their defense held the Axewomen to 49 points on 24 per cent shooting, which was 20 per cent lower then then the night before. UNB lead throughout the game, with a final score of 64-49. The win ended the Reds nine game-losing streak.
Cleary one again had a strong game, with 12 points and seven rebounds. Fellow post Katelynn Mangold took home player of the game honours with 15 points and nine boards.
“I think our posts are one of our biggest strengths, so we got to keep working on getting our scores inside,” said Speedy.
The women play the Cape Breton University Capers on Friday, Feb. 7, followed by St. Francis Xavier University on the Feb. 8 in the annual Shoot for the Cure. They are sitting in last place in the Atlantic University Sport standings.