By Crina Mustafa
The Rams women’s basketball team advanced to the Critelli Cup semi-finals with a 67-58 victory over the Queen’s Gaels at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) on Saturday.
The Rams started hard on defence, trapping Queen’s and picking away at the offence early. They forced nine turnovers in the opening quarter turning defence into offence—especially senior forward Jama Bin-Edward, who led all scorers at halftime with 14 points on 6-10 shooting. She also went 2-5 from beyond the arc in the half and torched the defence in a handful of layups.
“We are all confident in all of our abilities and we all trust each other,” said Bin-Edward of her teammates after the game. She finished the game with 22 points on 47.6 per cent shooting.
The team’s defensive backbone allowed them to stay on top during the second quarter when Queen’s went on a run of their own. Eventually, at 22-20, a timeout was called.
“We needed to clean up a few things on both sides of the floor,” said Rams head coach Carly Clarke. She mentioned there had been a couple of defensive errors and the timeout helped to settle things down.
About halfway through the second quarter, the Rams upped their defensive intensity as they tried to get through some offensive bumps.
“I think that we have a really deep bench and a lot of us are really defensive-minded,” said Bin-Edward.
This was evident when they forced a shot-clock violation and secured their first bucket of the second quarter with about six minutes to go. Bin-Edward took advantage of the fast pace and converted back-to-back layups to get the lead back to double digits.
By the third quarter, the game was inching closer to within two possessions.
Despite some tough calls, the Rams stayed true to their defensive identity and shared the ball on the offensive end.
A defensive mindset is engrained in the team, evident in the 29 points scored off of turnovers.
“Our defense is our anchor and where we get energy from,” said Clarke.
Clarke remarked on the depth of the team, which includes Kaillie Hall. The second-year guard is learning from her teammates on both sides of the floor. Another key player for the Rams was forward Eleanor Jones. The fourth-year had 12 points on 6-9 shooting and dominated the glass with 10 rebounds.
“I really thrive in defensive matchups, I just want to bring something different and a little bit of a spark as well,” said Hall.
Hall was a key in her ability to share the ball.
“I’m really fortunate to play with some knock down shooters, so just drawing people in and having some sharpshooters in the corner is kind of what I look for,” she said.
In the fourth quarter, that is exactly what happened. Rachel Farwell knocked down a three late in the game to give the Rams a good cushion in their lead and eventually secure the victory.
“I think all of us are prepared to come in on Monday and listen to our coaches and be ready with a game plan on Wednesday,” said Bin-Edward.
UP NEXT: The Rams will host the Carleton Ravens at the MAC on March 23, with a trip to the Critelli Cup final on the line. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.