Only a week after capturing their second-straight Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association championship, the women’s Tommies travelled to Lethbridge, Alta. for this year’s Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national tournament. Of the eight teams in the tournament, the St. Thomas University team faced the longest leg, playing in the tournament’s opening game on Thursday.
But the travel schedule was well worth it for the Tommies, who brought home the bronze medal, beating the MacEwan Griffins 73-56.
“When that buzzer went off I was fighting tears until I got in the locker room and it all poured out,” head coach Fred Connors said following the victory. “I cannot be more proud of a group of girls who battled and fought for something they knew they deserved.”
STU came storming out of the gate against the first-place Griffins and didn’t look back. They ended the first half on an impressive 14-4 run to take a 13-point lead heading into the half.
And then they came back to win it.
The Griffins couldn’t muster any momentum in the second half. The Tommies blew it wide open in the third to take an 18-point lead heading into the final quarter of the season. The game ended as the Tommies won 73-56 to capture the bronze medal.
It was the last game as a Tommie for Kelly Debow and Jill Lamoreau and they didn’t disappoint. Debow was named player of the game with a very impressive 19 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Lamoreau was a force all tournament – and especially in the bronze-medal game, adding 14 points to the win.
This was Lamoreau’s third time on the national stage, each time coming up just short of winning a medal.
“I was determined to come home with a medal this time. Winning bronze is far from easy, and doing it in my last game ever felt amazing.”
Co-captain Ashley Bawn was named to the first all-star team, and Debow was named to the second team.
The Tommies’ first match of the tournament was against the fourth ranked Dynamiques Sainte-Foy.
The two teams had played each other twice this season so they knew what to expect heading into the game.
The Tommies got off to a bad start and seemed to play catch-up the entire game. The Dynamiques were in complete control, as STU could never really get the lead under 10 points. They ended up losing the match 69-51, in what was their first official loss of the entire year.
“I don’t think we can blame the outcome of the first game on anything other than how we played. We just didn’t show up, and that happens sometimes,” said Kathleen McCann. “The time change was a challenge, but we had two days to get used to it before we played.”
Losing the first game meant the Tommies were officially out of the running for the gold medal, but still had a chance to capture the bronze.
In order to play in the bronze medal game, STU had to win its next two games, and that’s exactly what it did.
“Our first game was the worst game we played as a team this season. We didn’t play as a team at all and we knew we could only get better from there,” said Bawn.
Their second match was against the eighth-ranked Seneca Sting. Once again, the Tommies showed why they were ranked number one in defence throughout the country.
The Sting could not get anything going against STU inside the paint. The Tommies were also hot offensively, and they took the game easily, 87-56. STU was backed by Debow who had 17 points and Hilary Goodine with 16.
The win against the Sting gave the Tommies a lot of confidence heading into the bronze medal semi-final game against the sixth-ranked Algonquin Thunder. STU won the game 63-57, never trailing the entire game.
This was a statement game for STU as they proved once again that they could compete with the highest level teams and still come out on top. The rookies were huge in the win as Brittany Gilliss had 14 points and Kelly Vass chipped in with 10.
And with the win against the Thunder, the Tommies went on to the national bronze-medal game for the second-straight year.
Last year they fell short and placed fourth.
This time though, they brought the medal home.
“We were not leaving Lethbridge without a medal,” said McCann.