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Reigning champs ring in new year with win over undefeated Guelph Gryphons

By Julian Bettencourt

The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold women’s basketball team made an emphatic return to the court on Wednesday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC), led by the sharp-shooting of fourth-year Rachel Farwell. 

TMU made easy work of the Guelph University Gryphons, even though their opponents came into the game with an undefeated 8-0 record and won 88-56. Head coach Carly Clarke called the performance TMU’s “best game of the season”.

“I thought we played a really great game on both ends of the floor,” said Clarke. “We lost Kait Nichols to an injury and we had to make adjustments and everyone stepped up with what they needed to do.” 

No update or timetable for a potential return for Nichols was provided. 

The Bold opened the game strong and utilized a full-court press to get things going. Their aggressiveness—with the added help of the impressive number of TMU fans in attendance—resulted in a 21-10 lead after the first quarter.

That trend didn’t change in the second quarter either, as the Bold’s defensive prowess yielded results.

Guelph’s MacKeely Shantz has been one of the most prolific scorers in the Ontario University Athletics Conference but was held to only nine points on Wednesday. Shantz only recorded her first points of the contest with just over a minute remaining in the first half.

“We always work hard to know the personnel on the other team, knowing their strengths and weaknesses and trying to manipulate that,” said Farwell. “I think we did a good job with that.”

A step-back three by Jayme Foreman closed the half, with TMU leading 42-25. Knowing Guelph’s dominance this season, a comeback was certainly seen as a possibility, but TMU didn’t let up. 

Farwell dominated the entire game but really exploded in the third quarter, opening the second half with her own 11-0 run. Her 32-point performance is among one of the highest-scoring games in her program’s history and four shy of the 36-point record, which Farwell tied in 2020.  

“Outstanding is the best way to put it,” said teammate Kaillie Hall, who dished out a game-high nine assists on Wednesday night. “Rachel is an all-around player. Obviously, you saw today she shot the lights out, but she’s also a really great defender and a really great rebounder and a really great teammate too.”

Thanks to Farwell’s dominance and their defensive efficiency, the Bold looked comfortable for the rest of the game. Every time the Gryphons looked like they were about to spark a comeback, the Bold repeatedly produced an instant response. 

In particular, a drive and finish from point guard Tiya Misir and block by Eleanor Jones—on back-to-back plays—got the Bold fans roaring. 

TMU’s momentum carried into the final quarter of action and when the final buzzer sounded they left the court with a hard-earned win. The Bold improved to 5-5 on the year and a win over a nationally ranked, undefeated opponent will be a big confidence boost moving forward. 

“To keep our momentum going forward we have to recognize what we did well, find things we need to get better at and keep it going,” said Clarke.

UP NEXT: TMU takes on the York University Lions at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Jan. 7. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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