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Strong third quarter leads Mustangs past Golden Hawks

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The Western Mustangs secure a 65-48 victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks. (Jing Qu/Western Mustangs photo)

WATERLOO, Ont. (from Western Mustangs) — Third-year guard Maddy Horst poured in a game-high 22 points to go along with four rebounds and a pair of steals to help lead the Western Mustangs to a 65-48 victory over the Laurier Golden Hawks on Wednesday evening at the PAC Gym at the University of Waterloo.

With the win, the Mustangs move into third place with a 12-9 record alongside the Lakehead Thunderwolves. The Golden Hawks loss will drop them to a 10-11 record on the season as they remain tied for fifth with the Guelph Gryphons.

Two other Mustangs scored in double figures for the purple and white, as fifth-year guard Mackenzie Puklicz dropped 18 points, eight rebounds, and an incredible five steals on the night to lead the defence while Julia Curran added 10 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double performance.

Nicole Morrison led the way for the Golden Hawks in the loss, as she put up a team-high 13 points on the night, inching closer and closer to Laurier’s total points record in her fifth and final year with the program.

Western’s defence was incredible to begin the game, as the Mustangs seemed to deny the Laurier offence with ease, forcing shot clock violations while converting well on the other end of the floor, starting the game on a 7-0 run. Despite the strong start for the purple and white, the threes would quickly begin to fall for the Golden Hawks midway through the frame led by the veteran guard Morrison. However, consistent scoring effort from Puklicz would keep the Mustangs lead alive. Despite the improved offence from Laurier, Puklicz’s 10 first-quarter points would prove to be enough to give the purple and white a 16-10 lead heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter was a different story for Western to begin the frame, as Laurier began to exploit the Mustangs in the paint while slowing down the individual scoring of Puklicz and derailing the Western offence as the purple and white failed to spark a sustained scoring run throughout the quarter. Both teams pushed the pace throughout the frame, but the pace seemed to force poor shot selection from both sides as Western went into the halftime break deadlocked at 24-24.

Puklicz quickly found her groove once again to begin the second half, scoring with ease alongside Horst as the purple and white opened the third quarter with a strong offensive run. The ball movement would lead the offence throughout the second half, as Horst’s offensive effort would spark an 18-0 run to begin the frame and grow into a dominating lead midway through the third. Western’s offence would continue to roll throughout the quarter, heading into the fourth with a 28-4 run and a 52-28 lead.

The Golden Hawks would attempt to battle back throughout the fourth quarter, finding some success from beyond the arc, but the effort proved to be too little, too late against a Mustangs team clicking on all cylinders as Western would eventually cruise to a 65-48 victory.

The Mustangs will be back in action this Saturday, February 10 where they will take on the McMaster Marauders on the road in their second and final meeting of the season. The game is set to begin at 1 pm EST.

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