By Andy Watson
HAMILTON, Ont. – It was close early, but the top-seeded Simon Fraser Clan rode a wave of experience, exploiting their size advantage inside the paint to win their first back-to-back Bronze Baby trophies and fifth title in team history with a 77-56 win over the No. 2 Windsor Lancers in the final of the CIS women’s basketball championship at McMaster University’s Burridge Gymnasium, on Sunday afternoon.
Championship web site (complete stats): http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wbkb
It is the 19th straight national title for a school from the Canada West conference (including the now-defunct Great Plains conference) and Simon Fraser’s fifth in nine straight championship appearances.
“We had talked in the pre-game about how my first national championship was won on this court,” said Simon Fraser head coach Bruce Langford, who took over the program one year after it joined CIS in 2000-01. “We were down 12 or 14 in that game, and when we came out nervous, I just reminded the players that this is a special event and a special day and to not get down. In this game we stayed poised.”
CIS player of the year and tournament MVP Robyn Buna, a fourth-year forward from Kelowna, B.C., led the Clan with 17 points along with two steals and an assist. She said this was the perfect way to end her CIS career, as one of seven Clan players on this roster to win a third ring.
Centre Matteke Hutzler of Napanee, Ont., guard Lisa Tindle of Vancouver, guard Brea McLaughlin of West Vancouver, post Laurelle Weigl of Stony Plain, Alta., forward Kelsey Horsting of Langley, B.C., and post Kate Hole of St. Albert, Alta., also became three-time champions.
“It was the best way to finish my career,” said Buna, who opened the tournament on Friday with a 27-point performance against host McMaster. “I think we were all playing a little tight. We were apprehensive, it’s the national final.”
“But 10 years from now, I won’t think about whether or not we won but how hard we worked together to accomplish this goal.”
Windsor’s Russell Athletics player of the game Jessica Clemençon paced the Lancers with 14 points but only pulled down three rebounds. The native of St. Rambert, France, was the CIS rookie of the year this season, and was the lone Lancer named to the all-tournament team.
Buna credits balanced scoring and the ability to score on back-door cuts for the Clan’s victory to keep the Bronze Baby in the Canada West conference. The last three national finals have featured two Canada West teams, and the last non-Canada West school to make the final was Cape Breton in 2006, 56-53 losers to UBC.
Windsor was the first Ontario team to play for the Bronze Baby since York lost to Manitoba 73-52 in the 1997 championship game in Thunder Bay, Ont. The last Ontario squad to win the championship was Laurentian, 79-72 winners over Regina in 1991 in Ste. Foy, Que.
Lancers head coach Chantal Vallée, in her fifth season at the helm, said she was pleased with the effort and getting one step closer to winning a national title.
“We started out really well, playing to our strengths,” Vallée said. “But after opening up with a 15-6 lead, we missed a couple of open layups. Then Iva Peklova got into foul trouble and we missed some rebounds and we were not quite ourselves.”
“But Simon Fraser responded right away after we got the lead,” Vallée said. “The closer you get to tasting gold the more disappointed you are in a loss.”
In a game broadcast nationally on TSN2, the Clan weathered an early lapse before going on a 20-3 run over eight minutes into the second quarter to lead 39-27 at the half.
In the opening quarter, the No. 1 Clan took an early lead, but the Lancers built a nine-point lead led by the strong play of forwards Peklova of Prague, Czech Republic, and Bojana Kovacevic of Windsor midway through the quarter. But foul trouble to Peklova and guard Shavaun Reaney of Sherwood Park, Alta., allowed Simon Fraser to exploit a size advantage and their bigs allowed them to close the quarter on a 14-3 run to lead 20-18 after the first frame.
Peklova picked up her third personal foul early in the second quarter, and the Clan extended their lead to 26-18 forcing turnovers and scoring in transition, continuing on their run.
Down by 12 at the half, the Lancers made a valiant effort to regain the lead, pulling the spread to eight points as Simon Fraser got into foul trouble of their own in the third quarter. They put Windsor at the line 12 times and sent the Lancers into the bonus with over four minutes left in the period. But the OUA champions only connected on seven opportunities from the charity stripe, and Simon Fraser re-established the cushion, leading 59-43 at the end of the third period.
Hutzler scored a jump-shot to stretch Simon Fraser’s lead to 20 points, at 67-47, their biggest of the game. Buna was the first to check out, as Langford honoured his seniors, subbing her off seconds after draining a three to give her 17 points on the day.
“I thought we were deeper and we set a goal of controlling the boards and I thought we did that quite well,” Langford said of the 34-20 edge in rebounding. “We knew there would be ups and downs but we handled it when we got down and played with great intensity when the game got physical.”
Weigl was named the Clan game MVP following a 16-point, five-rebound effort, while Hole contributed 11 points and seven board and was selected a tournament all-star.
Kovacevic and Peklova had 12 and 11 points, respectively, in the losing cause.
Scoring By Quarter
1 2 3 4 T
Simon Fraser 20 19 20 18 77
Windsor 18 9 16 13 56
GAME NOTES: Rounding out the 2010 championship all-star team were guard Jill Humbert of bronze medallist Saskatchewan, and guard Joanna Zalesiak of fourth place Regina... Saskatchewan’s Lindsay DeGroot earned the R.W. Pugh Fair Play award... The last team to repeat as national champion was Manitoba in 1996 and 1997... Le Clan had captured its first four CIS titles with gold-medal wins over Regina (68-62) in 2009, Alberta (72-68) in 2007, Winnipeg (70-60) in 2005 and Laval (66-51) in 2002... The Bronze Baby trophy remains in BC for the eighth straight year following triumphs by SFU, UBC (2008, 2006, 2004) and Victoria (2003)... Simon Fraser reached the 2010 final thanks to a 94-76 quarter-final victory over No. 8 McMaster on Friday and a 69-55 semifinal win over No. 4 Regina on Saturday... Windsor defeated No. 7 Ottawa 64-46 in the opening round and No. 3 Saskatchewan 82-60 in the semis... The Clan beat the Lancers twice in non-conference action this season prevailing 81-78 on Oct. 24 and 69-50 the next day, both times at home in Burnaby, B.C... SFU finished the season with a 31-1 overall record versus CIS competition... Simon Fraser lost 63-61 at Victoria in its second last game of the regular season, on Feb. 13...
Points: Robyn Buna (17), Laurelle Weigl (16), Kate Hole (11)
Rebounds: Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (10), Matteke Hutzier (7), Katie Miyazaki (7), Kate Hole (7)
Assists: Laurelle Weigl (4), Katie Miyazaki (3), Kristina Collins (3)
Russell Athletics player of the game: Laurelle Weigl
Points: Jessica Clemençon (14), Bojana Kovacevic (12), Iva Peklova (11)
Rebounds: Iva Peklova (9), Bojana Kovacevic (5)
Assists: Shavaun Reaney (7)
Russell Athletics player of the game: Jessica Clemençon
Tournament MVP: Robyn Buna, Simon Fraser
R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award: Lindsay DeGroot, Saskatchewan
Robyn Buna, forward, Simon Fraser
Kate Hole, post, Simon Fraser
Jessica Clemençon, post, Windsor
Jill Humbert, guard, Saskatchewan
Joanna Zalesiak, guard, Regina
SCHEDULE & RESULTS
Friday, March 12
Quarter-final #1: Windsor 64, Ottawa 46
Quarter-final #2: Saskatchewan 70, Cape Breton 54
Quarter-final #3: Simon Fraser 94, McMaster 76
Quarter-final #4: Regina 69, Laval 54
Saturday, March 13
Consolation #1: Cape Breton 65, Ottawa 59
Consolation #2: Laval 66, McMaster 58
Semifinal #1: Windsor 82, Saskatchewan 60
Semifinal #2: Simon Fraser 69, Regina 55
Sunday, March 14
Consolation final (5th place): Cape Breton 86, Laval 49
Bronze medal: Saskatchewan 78, Regina 67
Championship final: Simon Fraser 77, Windsor 56