GUELPH, Ont. (from Western Mustangs) – A 32-point third quarter, led by first-year guard Skyla Minaker, led the Guelph Gryphons to an 85-76 win over the Western Mustangs on Saturday afternoon at the Gryphons Athletics Complex.
With the loss, the Mustangs finish the regular season in fifth place in the OUA West with a 13-11 record. The Gryphons move to 14-10 with the win and clinch fourth place in the West to secure a home playoff matchup against the Mustangs this coming Wednesday.
Three Mustangs scored in the double digits on Saturday, as Mackenzie Puklicz and Julia Curran both recorded a team-high 22 points, while Maddy Horst was next up with 21. Curran also had a strong game on the glass, leading all players with 10 rebounds.
While Minaker turned things around for the Gryphons with a stellar third quarter, it was actually Sarah Holmes who led the way on the scoresheet, tallying 25 points in the win. Minaker finished the day with 22 points on 10-15 shooting, while also grabbing five rebounds and registering six assists.
Neither team was able to get into much of a rhythm in the early going, with turnovers preventing both sides from building up a sustained advantage. The Mustangs held a slight edge on their opponents, thanks in part to a pair of three-pointers from Puklicz in the opening minutes.
The Gryphons tied the game at 10 near the midway point of the frame on a pair of free throws from Sarah Holmes. However, the Mustangs went on a 16-9 run to end the frame and take a 26-19 lead into the second quarter.
It was a slow start on both ends of the floor in the second frame, with Puklicz providing the only offence in the first three minutes, increasing Western’s lead to 31-19.
Guelph began to chip away at the Mustangs lead. However, both defences ramped up the physicality and kept the scoring to a minimum. The bulk of Western’s scoring continued to come from Puklicz, with the veteran finishing the first half with 20 points to help Western take a 37-30 lead at the half.
Both offences came out with an increased tempo to start the third quarter, with the two sides trading baskets to start off the second half. Western utilized a balanced attack on the offensive end, while Minaker led the Gryphons attack.
Minaker’s efforts began to pay off towards the end of the quarter, with the Gryphons clawing their way back and taking the lead with just under two minutes remaining in the frame off a three-pointer from the rookie guard. She’d finish with 14 points over 10 minutes to put Guelph in front 62-56 heading into the final quarter.
The Gryphons would carry that momentum into the fourth quarter with Guelph able to increase their lead to as high as 13 points late in the frame. Western continued to battle into the final minutes but were unable to close the gap, with Guelph claiming an 85-76 win.
Next up for the purple and white is a rematch with the Gryphons, this time in an OUA first-round playoff matchup on Wednesday night in Guelph.