It was a win that meant more than just points for the UNB Varsity Reds women’s basketball team.
“We definitely needed one. We lost a few in a row and it’s a four-pointer on your home court and you don’t like to give away those four-pointers on your home court,” said Varsity Reds head coach Jeff Speedy.
Laura Kaye had 20 points and Rachael Clearly posted 11 rebounds in UNB’s 67-52 four-point win over the Cape Breton Capers on Friday night in front of 423 fans at the Richard J. Currie Center.
The victory ended a three-game home court losing streak for the Varsity Reds who have fallen to middle of the Atlantic University Sport standings, battling for the conference’s final playoff spots.
“It’s a huge win because we lost a few in a row and I think it’s a bit of a confidence builder because we were missing some pretty key kids,” said Speedy. “Definitely a big win.”
“It definitely is a big confidence booster,” said Clearly, who was named player of the game. “We lost a few games to SMU and Dal that, arguably, we could have won. It was heartbreaking losing those games and this just gets us ready for the end of the season.”
The Capers struggled offensively in the early goings and the Varsity Reds took advantage, leading 14-9 at the end of the first quarter and 29-18 at halftime.
The Reds, playing without Chelsey Collette, Hannah Currie and Katelyn Mangold due to injury, continued to make shots in the second half, leading 46-33 heading into the fourth. Cape Breton managed to score 19 points in the fourth but were bested by UNB who had 21.
The Capers finished the game with a 36.2 field goal percentage and hit just 50 per cent from the free throw line. Alison Keough, one of the conference’s top scorers, was held to just nine points. Cleary was one of the reasons for that.
“Rachael was amazing today,” said Speedy. “Not only did she do a great job on the boards and do a great job on Keough, she was very mentally tough. She played through being tired all the time. She’s used to playing 26 minutes and played more than that. Every time she subbed out I said as soon as you’re ready to go back in, don’t even tell me, just go.”
On Saturday, the Varsity Reds travelled to Charlottetown but weren’t able to keep the momentum going from Friday’s game, falling 57-49 to the Panthers. The Reds were up 19-18 at halftime but a run by the Panthers in the fourth quarter guided the home side to victory.
Nicole LaFleur and Grace Wade each had 10 points in the loss while Cleary had 12 rebounds.
The loss dropped UNB to 6-7 on the season. Their 16 points place them fifth in the AUS standings. The top six teams earn playoff berths.
Meanwhile, the Panthers improved to an impressive 8-5 on the year with 22 points.
“UPEI is for real. They’re not the UPEI of 10 years ago when it was an automatic win, that’s for sure,” said Speedy following Friday’s game.
The V-Reds are on the road this weekend, travelling to Acadia University to face the last-place Axewomen on Friday and Saturday night.