WATERLOO, Ont. (from Guelph Gryphons) – The growth of the Guelph Gryphons women’s basketball team is starting to show as the OUA regular season nears its end. The Gryphons played well at both ends of the court in a convincing 74-55 road win over the Waterloo Warriors Friday night.
The victory pushes the young Guelph team over the .500 mark at 11-10 and extends its win streak to three games. The Gryphons also pass the Laurier Golden Hawks to take over fifth in the OUA West standings.
“We are progressing and we’re starting to peak at the right time,” said Gryphons head coach Mark Walton, noting that his team goes 12 players deep now. “We’re getting better as a team. And it’s not just the starters making contributions, it’s everybody.”
Third-year Gryphons’ guard Sarah Holmes (Welland, Ont.) had a big double double with 17 points and 13 rebounds (both game-highs), while Ashley Wheeler (Stratford, Ont.) chipped in 14 points and five boards. Senior Megan Brenkel (Thornhill, Ont.) came off the bench to score 10 points, all of them coming in the first half. Haley Belyk (Regina, Sask.) led all players with six assists.
Walton felt there was a balance of good offence and defence against the Warriors. The players made good decisions with the ball, he said, leading to good shots. And they clamped down on the defensive end.
Guelph was up 19-15 after the first quarter, with the Warriors hitting 10-of-13 from the free-throw line to keep close. But the Gryphons began to pull away in the second quarter with a combination of red-hot shooting and excellent defence. Guelph put together a big 12-0 run midway through the quarter that propelled the visitors to a 45-29 lead at the half.
“That was really key and what drove the run was our defence,” Walton said. “We moved the ball well offensively and when there’s a flow to the game, it helps the shooters. We would pass the ball six, seven, eight times and boom, we had a good shot.”
The Gryphons shot 47 per cent from the floor in the first half and managed to sink six-of-13 from beyond the arc, three of them coming from Holmes (11 points in the half).
Holmes has been back in the Guelph lineup for five games after missing 11 with an illness. The guard is finding her stroke, having scored 36 points in the last two games.
“She’s starting to get her legs back,” said Walton. “And it’s helping her shot.
“It’s nice to have her back. It’s a lot harder to play without her. Sarah does so many little things really well. She’s making effort plays now. She essentially missed most of the season so she’s just starting to come into her own form now, that playing form.”
The Gryphons are back in Waterloo Sunday afternoon to take on the Golden Hawks in a pivotal match-up at RIM Park. The opening tip is at noon.