Second-straight ACAA championship win ‘mind-blowing’ for STU women’s basketball coach

It was the fifth straight year the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics and St. Thomas University lady Tommies met in the deciding game for the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association for women’s basketball.

Tommies coach, Fred Connors, played everyone in the earlier games of the tournament, giving the starters more time to rest for that final game.

“They’re a well-coached basketball team,” said Connors of MSVU. “It’s been a battle every time we’ve played them.”

But once again, it was a battle STU could win.

On Sunday, the St. Thomas women’s basketball team won the championship banner for the ACAA basketball playoffs, which were hosted by Prince Edward Island’s Holland College in its newly renovated gym. The women beat MSVU 63-49, making this their second straight year as ACAA champions.

“It’s quite overwhelming to win again,” said Connors. “You never think you’re going to be undefeated and to go back-to-back is pretty mind-blowing.”

STU seemed a bit sluggish right from the tip-off, trailing 17-9 after the first quarter in what was the biggest deficit for the Tommies all season.

The Tommies got their composure back in the second quarter as they battled back from the eight-point hole.

They outscored the second-place Mystics 15-7 to tie the game at 24 after the first half. The Tommies had to come back in the next half, paying closer attention to detail on the defensive end of the court.

Just like the first, the Tommies came out flat to begin the quarter and it saw the Mystics take full advantage of it. Player of the Year Chelsea MacKay stepped it up in the third and rallied Mount Saint Vincent to a three-point lead heading into the final quarter.

This was the first time all season that the undefeated Tommies were down heading into the fourth.

“To be honest there was a moment during the game that I thought we might lose, but then I told myself that I needed to stay positive in order to be able to encourage the rest of the team to do the same,” Kathleen McCann said.

The fourth quarter got off to a slow start as neither team scored for the first three minutes. The momentum really started to change for the Tommies when Kathleen McCann scored a tough shot in the post and then, on the next position, she hit a huge three pointer to give the Tommies the lead.

And once they got ahead, STU never looked back

They went on to win the quarter 23-6 and eventually to win their second straight ACAA championship 63-49.

Brittany Gilliss led the team with 15 points including crucial free throws in the fourth quarter, while Kelly Vass added 12 in the win.

Between the two of them, the STU women’s and men’s basketball teams took home eight major awards last weekend.

Jill Lamoreau, Kelly DeBow and Ashley Bawn all received first team all-star selections, while Renee LeBlanc was awarded the Rod Shoveller for her contribution to the community, academics and sport. To wrap up the women’s awards, Fred Connors was named coach of the year for the second straight season, and Brittany Gilliss collected rookie of the year.

The men’s awards went to Nathan Mazurkiewicz, who was selected to the second team all-star, while Richie Wilkins also took home the rookie of the year award.

 

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