Colleen Daly’s UNB Varsity Reds career isn’t over just yet.
Daly and the rest of the Varsity Reds women’s basketball team will hit the road for Halifax this week where they’ll take part in the 2015 Atlantic University Sport Championship. It’s the first time UNB will appear in the tournament since 2013.
Following back-to-back home losses to the Memorial University Sea-Hawks this past weekend, UNB enters the playoffs as the sixth seed with an 8-12 record.
Daly, who was honoured after Saturday’s game as the team’s only graduating player, said it was her teammates that made her time at UNB so special.
“They’re so supportive and they’re so kind,” she said. “I wouldn’t choose to be on any other team if I got paid to play. I love every single one of them. It’s been a great opportunity.
“I’ve just tried to appreciate everything that’s been given to me here. I’ll always remember it.”
In Saturday’s 80-64 loss to the Sea-Hawks, the Varsity Reds were down by just one entering the fourth but allowed 26 points in the final quarter.
“We battled hard. We couldn’t finish, really,” said Daly, who had three points and a rebound in 19 minutes of action. “We worked hard and we’re just going to get ready for playoffs.”
A late run by the Sea-Hawks tied things at 17-17 to end the first quarter. The Varsity Reds quickly jumped out to a 19-17 lead in the second, kicking off a 6-0 run. But the rest of the quarter was mostly all Sea-Hawks who took a 39-31 lead into halftime.
In the third, UNB was able to cut MUN’s lead to 47-46 and 50-49. Then, at 1:25, a Jane Boyle jump shot tied the match at 51-51. The Sea-Hawks retook the lead with 42.7 seconds remaining in the quarter when Sydney Ezekiel drained a three-point shot. The Reds were able to get back within one though and trailed 54-53 heading into the fourth. A 13-3 run by MUN start the fourth kicked off a dominant quarter for the Sea-Hawks.
“To say it got away from us is an understatement,” said UNB head coach Jeff Speedy.
“I think we had trouble playing when we were tired today and playing when things weren’t going our way. I thought that was a big issue in the second quarter but I thought we did a really good job with that in the third quarter to cut an eight point deficit down to one. If we could have somehow managed to do that in the fourth quarter we would have been right there in the end. If it’s a close game with five minutes left I like your chances at home. We just couldn’t maintain the same focus and energy in the fourth quarter that we needed to.”
After giving up 80 points on Saturday and 70 points in Friday’s 70-58 loss, Speedy said his team needs to work on sticking to their defensive game plan come Thursday’s playoff game.
“I don’t think there is anybody we should be afraid of that we can’t compete with and possibly beat,” the coach said.
“Anybody you play in playoffs is going to be a very good basketball team. We’re sixth, so all five teams in theory are doing some things better than us because their record is better. It’ll be a challenge no matter who we face.
Grace Wade led UNB in scoring on Friday, posting 14 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes of action. On Saturday, Kiley DeLong had 18 points and 13 rebounds in 33 minutes.
The Varsity Reds will play their first game of the AUS Championship on Thursday night at 8:15 p.m. at Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre. UNB will face the third seeded team.