by David Conlin, Vikes Media
Photos by Christian J. Stewart, ISN
March 9, 2017, VICTORIA – The McGill Martlets advanced to the U SPORTS Women’s Final 8 semifinals on Thursday night with a 72-62 victory over a resilient Regina Cougars team at the CARSA Performance Gym in Victoria.
McGill, seeded fourth after winning the RSEQ championship, came in as the higher-ranked team, although the fifth-seeded Cougars gave them all they could handle. The teams entered the second quarter tied at 16, before the Martlets stole the edge in the second quarter, outscoring Regina 20-14 on 61.5 per cent shooting.
“The girls worked hard,” said McGill head coach Ryan Thorne. “What was really important for us was our rotation defence…our ball-screen defence. Offensively we had an advantage with Alex (Kiss-Rusk), so we pounded it in there when we could and when they double-teamed her, we found some open shooters and shot the ball well.”
The Cougars got within three points in the fourth quarter after entering the final frame down 49-40 but couldn’t overcome the hot-shooting Martlets.
“They hit the three really well tonight,” said Regina coach Dave Taylor. “If they are going to do that, they are going to be tough to beat. I didn’t think we played terrible defence, they just hit their shots.”
Rookie guard Frederique Potvin led McGill with 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting from the field, knocking down four threes, while third-year point guard Marika Guerin, fourth-year centre Alex Kiss-Rusk and fourth-year forward Jennifer Silver each had 12 points for the Martlets.
Kiss-Rusk added 11 rebounds to finish with a double-double, earning her Player of the Game honours for the Martlets. The performance was nothing new from the Beaconsfield, Que., native, who led McGill in scoring with 14.1 points per game this season.
Fifth-year guard Katie Polischuk was named Player of the Game for the Cougars after knocking down a team-high 17 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Michaela Kleisinger had nine points for the Cougars and added six rebounds to round out a strong game.
“I was proud of (Polischuk) because she was struggling from three and that’s where she normally scores from,” said Taylor. “She found other ways to score when we needed it.”
McGill will now meet the the Carleton Ravens in the second semifinal on Saturday, set for 4:00 p.m. PST, while Regina will play the UVic Vikes at 8:00 p.m. on Friday night. Carleton overcame a 37-30 halftime deficit to defeat UVic 77-66 in Thursday’s final game (see related story).