Jason Hurley had his crystal ball humming along on overdrive this week.
The Laurentian Voyageurs’ women’s basketball coach was commenting on the 1-1 start his team had enjoyed on opening weekend mid-week, after splitting a pair of games with the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks one week ago (losing 60-56 and winning 68-56).
“I like that we have spurts where we can really defend and really run up a margin,” said Hurley. “If you look at the fourth quarter at Ontario Tech, I believe it was a 19-6 run. I think we ended the Algoma game on a 24-3 run at the tail-end of our pre-season.”
Fast forward to this past Friday/Saturday.
The Voyageurs had already defeated the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 75-55 Friday night at home, taking a 16-12 lead into Q2 the very next evening. From there, a 23-10 sequence built largely on absolute dominance from the free throw line (L.U. outscored their opponents 21-6 from the charity stripe on Saturday) gave the team plenty of wiggle room in posting a 71-61 triumph, improving to 3-1 on the year.
“I thought we played really well yesterday,” noted third year Nursing student Sydney Tabin, tackling her first season of OUA ball despite coming to Sudbury as a transfer student-athlete in 2019. “We had a little bit of a hard time in the fourth quarter, but it gives us something from an improvement standpoint.”
“We know what we need to work on for this week, before our next games.”
A nicely balanced L.U attack would see Hélèna Lamoureux (17), Sydney Tabin (15), Arielle Douillette (14) and Bailey Tabin (13) all hitting double digits, matching the number of women who hit the same plateau one night earlier: Lamoureux (16), B. Tabin (13), S. Tabin (13) and Emilie Lafond (12).
“In the forward spot, we’re strong,” noted coach Hurley. “The Tabin sisters (twins) give us a lot of different options, both on offense and on defense. Emilie Lafond is obviously quite a match-up for us. Aneisha Rismond is a very capable front court player and Helena Lamoureux is a big part for us at three.”
Throw in the perimeter shooting of Macdonald-Cartier graduate Arielle Douillette, who nailed a half dozen baskets from beyond the three-point line against Toronto, and you have the makings of a pretty darn competitive team.
“We have eight players who are 6’0” or taller, we have some dynamic quickness, we have some scoring on the wing,” said Hurley. “But defense and rebounding is what we are built on.”
That, and some depth to the bench in being able to sub-in complete units of five, something that was featured throughout much of the Saturday encounter. “I find that we have fresh legs, which really helps,” said Tabin, a native of Saskatoon. “We can kind of ride off each other’s high. We try and keep it up from the unit that was just on.”
“I find that it works, for our team, really well.”
In their first season of the post Kadre Gray era, the Laurentian men are also finding things working pretty well for them, matching the ladies record of 3-1 with a pair of games remaining versus the Queen’s Gaels before the teams enjoy their holiday break.
The Voyageurs men also took a pair of contests from the University of Toronto, needing overtime to subdue the visitors 83-76 on Friday and completing the task in regulation time thanks to a 76-73 victory on Saturday.
Laurentian had to overcome a 40-38 deficit at the half, 63-59 after three in the opener, as Cedric Mbiaba went off for an astounding 38 points in the game. In fact, the trio of Mbiaba, Haround Mohamed (21) and Gaetan Chamand (16) accounted for an almost unheard of 90.4% of the scoring for the home side as the teams went to overtime tied at seventy.
Head coach Shawn Swords was likely a little more pleased with a Saturday boxscore that featured Mohamed (26), Chamand (16) and Caillou Lacroix (10) leading the way, but also no less than nine different players getting into the point parade.
The rematch was a see-saw affair, as Laurentian led after the first quarter (16-15) and at the end, but trailed after both the second (38-36) and third quarters (63-62). Evan Shadkami showed the way for the visitors with an 18-point effort as the Blues remained winless on the year at 0-3.
After travelling to Kingston next weekend and mixing in practices with the upcoming university exam schedules and Christmas holidays, the Laurentian teams return to Ben Avery Gymnasium on the weekend of January 14th/15th, hosting the York Lions for a two game set.