During their first-ever national final showing, the McMaster Marauders are the 2019 U SPORTS Women’s Basketball Champions after defeating the Laval Rouge et Or 70-58 in the gold medal game at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre on Sunday evening.
Coming into this tournament, the Marauders previously won a bronze medal 29 years ago. As a result, this season was historic as they clinched OUA gold before advancing to the finals and claiming their national title.
“To be able to do this after five years, in my last year is so amazing. This also means the world to her (head coach, Theresa Burns) she’s been doing this for 25 plus years and to finally make it, and make it to the National Championship and win, we’re so happy to do this for her,” said MVP of the tournament, Linnaea Harper.
Christina Buttenham (Hamilton, Ont.) opened the scoring for the Marauders. On the defensive side, Olivia Wilson (Lions Head, Ont.) saw two blocks.
Laval was looking for their first national title as well, after falling to McGill in the 2017 U SPORTS final, however, it wasn’t until three minutes in that Laval’s Khaleann Caron-Goudreau (Gatineau, Que.) put Laval on the board.
Again, Buttenham earned possession and finished the play as the Marauders moved the ball around the arc to earn the 4-2 lead. After the turnover, Buttenham performed a block to capture the court once again.
Caron-Goudreau then found the net to tie the game 4-4 at the midpoint of the first.
Laval’s Claudia Emond (Saguenay, Que.) was not afraid to take a chance outside the arc. Steps out she sunk her first three and then completed another one, back to back, to give Laval the 10-9 lead. McMaster came back once again with help from Sarah Gates (Newmarket, Ont.) to advance 11-10 at the end of the quarter.
Into the second, Laval maintained possession. Sarah-Jane Marois (Québec, Que.) found openings within and outside the arc. Her consistent jumper helped Laval advance with 13 points in the quarter.
Julia Hanaka (Hamilton, Ont.) and Gates both answered with a three to trim the deficit, although this is when Marois saw back to back three’s to give Laval a seven point lead, 30-23.
After forcing a shot clock violation, the Marauders accelerated down the court to allow Wilson to score for the Marauders. Hanaka also took a chance to drive to the net to catch the Rouge et Or, but when the buzzer sounded Laval was up 33-27 into halftime.
Linnaea Harper (Newmarket, Ont.) opened the third quarter with a three, and Gates took advantage of a layup to trail Laval 33-32 in the first minute.
Emond returned the favour with a three, but Gates sunk a layup to maintain the pressure as the matchup continued to be a battle down the court. Hanaka scored on the baseline to cut the deficit to 38-37 midway through the quarter.
It continued to be a defensive battle in both ends. However, Buttenham travelled deep to secure a layup and a block that would give the Marauders the lead once again at 39-38. She secured a shot before she was fouled to make it 41-38 and then sunk the ball on the free throw line, extending to a 42-38 edge over Laval.
Shortly after, Laval’s Marois also found herself on the free throw line to tie the game at 42-42.
Right before the third quarter buzzer, Buttenham made an interception for another opportunity. Harper then took a chance for a three and was unsuccessful, yet for her seventh point of the quarter, Buttenham was there for the rebound to tie the game 44-44.
“The game plan is to always be as tough as we can be defensively, stay positive and no matter what happens, you just keep picking each other up and good things will happen. They’re just so resilient. We’re playing a good team, we’re playing No.1 in the country, so they’re going to get their runs, they’re going to score, but when we bent we didn’t break,” said head coach Theresa Burns.
“I think we just believed we could do it… They believe in each other, it’s like absolutely unshakable. I’ve had a lot of teams that support each other and believe in each other but this group takes it to a different level.”
The Marauders were on the free throw line to open the fourth quarter and Harper advanced the Marauders with a three.
Buttenham was successful with the jumper to create a seven point difference. At the halfway point the Marauders were up 53-50.
Jane Gagne, Caron-Goudreau and Marois set the tone for Laval by pushing deep down low. Emond also took control of the free throw line to support the Rouge et Or.
Yet, Gates earned another three and a jumper to advance the Marauders 58-54. Harper was strong at the free throw line, on the lay up and on the jump to create a ten point edge for the Marauders at 64-54. Notably, Harper saw eight points in the last five minutes of the quarter, and ended with a total of 18 points.
The Marauders fought hard on defence to maintain their edge. Hanaka performed on the free throw line and Harper earned one more for a grand, final score of 70-58 to receive the national title.
Harper mentioned that she was surprised to earn MVP of the tournament.
“Because our team is so good, it could have been anybody, so to be able to represent my team is a great feeling. It’s just so amazing,” said Harper.
Players of the Game
- McMaster Marauders: Christina Buttenham
- Laval Rouge et Or: Khaleann Caron-Goudreau
- Linnaea Harper, McMaster Marauders
Championship All-Star Team
- Summer Masikewich, Saskatchewan Huskies
- Brooklyn McAlear-Fanus, Ottawa Gee-Gees
- Sarah-Jane Marois, Laval Rouge et Or
- Khaleann Caron-Goudreau, Laval Rouge et Or
- Christina Buttenham, McMaster Marauders