U SPORTS Communications
VICTORIA – The Laval Rouge et Or may have entered as the seventh seed, but they showed on Wednesday afternoon that that their loss in the semifinals of the RSEQ playoffs won't stick around to haunt them at nationals.
The Rouge et Or charged out to a six point lead in the first quarter and didn't let go of the momentum, beating the No. 2-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies 69-59 in the second quarter-final game of the ArcelorMittal Dofasco U SPORTS Women's Final 8 at the CARSA Performance Gym in Victoria.
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"We hit a lot of really good shots down the stretch when they were coming back slowly," said Laval head coach Guillaume Giroux. "We shot the ball well like we have done all year, so we are really happy about the result."
Laval never relinquished the lead after putting together a 37-26 lead at the half. The only quarter that saw them outscored was the third—by just one point.
"Credit to them, we knew that we were going to have to guard the three-point line and I think we did a pretty good job in our half-court defence," said Saskatchewan head coach Lisa Thomaidis. "We forced a number of shot-clock violations but it was the broken plays that were a back-breaker for us."
As a team, the Rouge et Or shot 44.4 per cent from the field, just slightly better than the Huskies at 41.1 per cent. The best quarter for the team from Quebec came in the first, when they shot 60 per cent from the field and 50 per cent from beyond the arc.
"We are small, so we need to shoot the ball well," said Giroux. "That opens lanes for us to drive the ball. Our speed also helps us to get open shots."
Fifth-year guard Gabrielle Girard led Laval with 17 points on the day, followed by Genevieve Derome with 16 and Raphaelle Cote with 13 points. Cote was the strongest performer on the boards for Laval, falling just short of a double-double with nine.
Girard was named the Player of the Game for the Rouge et Or after leading the team in scoring. She averaged 13.3 points per game in the regular season to sit second on her team.
Megan Lindquist was the Player of the Game for the Huskies, after registering 13 points and six rebounds. She was strongest in her own end, where she had five defensive boards and a block. Teammate Summer Masikewich also had a strong defensive game, grabbing five rebounds to go with a team-high 17 points.
For the Huskies, a team that entered as back-to-back Canada West champions, the quarter-final loss was a tough one. But it was also a learning experience for a young team that drew a tough opponent.
"We did not lose to a bad team by any stretch of the imagination—they were ranked No. 1 for a majority of the season and for us, we are still a young team," said Thomaidis. "We are ecstatic to have won the Canada West banner and to be at nationals. This loss is a part of the process for us to gain the experience we need further down the road."
Laval advances to the semifinals on Saturday, when they'll face off against the Queen's Gaels on Sportsnet 360 in a game that will kick off at 2:00 p.m. PST. The Huskies play again tomorrow, facing off against Cape Breton at 6:00 p.m. PST.