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Gryphons beat Golden Hawks for fourth win in a row, chase home playoff date

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Nicole Morrison, ulia Kokonis
Guelph's Julia Kokonis, right, defends against Nicole Morrison of the Laurier Golden Hawks. (Eva Ou/Laurier Golden Hawks photo)

WATERLOO, Ont. (from Guelph Gryphons) – The playoff-bound Guelph Gryphons women’s basketball team continues to climb up the OUA West standings.

Sunday afternoon at the Manulife Sportsplex at RIM Park, the Gryphons picked up a convincing 74-56 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks.

Guelph shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening quarter, scoring 25 points to build up a nine-point lead heading to the second quarter. The Gryphons would hold Laurier to just 12 points to take a 15-point lead into the locker room at the half.

After a Laurier surge in the third quarter, the Gryphons would put the game out of reach in the fourth, outscoring the Hawks 20-10 to secure the victory.

With the win, the Gryphons (12-10) guarantee themselves a finish of no worse than fifth in the OUA West standings. With two games still remaining on the regular season schedule, the Gryphons have the chance to finish fourth, which would mean they would be hosting an opening round playoff game.

“We got off to a great start today and received a lot of production from our bench,” said Gryphons head coach Mark Walton. “Our shot selection was terrific and our defence was outstanding throughout.”

Helping lead the way for the Gryphons defensively was fourth year guard Haley Belyk as well as rookie guard Burke Bechard. The two guards took turns trying to contain one of the OUA’s top scorers in Laurier’s fifth year guard Nicole Morrison. And they did more than just contain her, they held her to her worst offensive outing of the season. Morrison came into the game as the third-leading scorer in the conference, averaging just under 20 points per game (19.6). Belyk and Bechard combined to limit her to a season-low in field goals. Morrison finished the day just one-of-19 shooting from the floor.

On the offensive end, the Gryphons were led by third year forward Ashley Wheeler. The Stratford native came off the bench and poured in a team-high 16 points on six-for-11 shooting. Wheeler also made some big contributions at the defensive end, accounting for all four of her team’s blocks in the game.

Third year forward Sarah Holmes finished the day with a double-double (13 points, 16 rebounds) and was the only player on either team to not come off the floor, logging 40 minutes of floor time.

The Gryphons, winners of four in a row and six of their last seven, will finish off their regular season schedule with home games against the Waterloo Warriors and Western Mustangs. The Gryphs will host Waterloo on Valentine’s Day before closing out the regular season on Saturday afternoon with a 1 p.m. tipoff against Western.

The regular season finale between the Mustangs (12-10) and Gryphons will also serve as a preview of a first-round playoff, as well as deciding home court advantage in the fourth-fifth matchup.

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