The Martlet basketball team (4–4) defeated the visiting Acadia University Axewomen (1–2) on Nov. 22 by a resounding final score of 79–67. Despite strong defensive efforts from Acadia in the second half, the Martlets rallied to secure the win for a boisterous crowd.
The first quarter saw McGill take a 23–16 lead over Acadia. Fifth-year guard Gladys Hakizimana led the way with a quick eight points on three-for-three shooting, disheartening the Axewomen. The Martlets’ defensive efforts were also strong, playing with a tenacity that forced four turnovers and limited the options for Acadia’s post-centric offence.
In the second quarter, the Martlets furthered their lead with a more rebound-oriented offence. Fifth-year centre Sirah Diarra led these efforts, posting her second straight double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and all four of the team’s blocks. The Martlets tallied 45 against the Axewomen’s 35 by the end of the half.
The dominance from the Martlets, however, did not last. Acadia came out in the second half with a rejuvenated defence that forced the Martlets to take ill-advised, off-balance, and contested shots toward the end of the shot clock. Their strong defence worked, and the Martlets only managed 10 points in the third quarter, all from three-pointers and free throws, with the Axewomen well on their way to tying the game.
“The girls they had were much bigger than me, and played really physical,” Diarra said. “I needed to play stronger.”
The game did not look good for the Martlets going into the fourth quarter. Only two points ahead of the Axewomen at 55–53, the Martlets had no momentum and seemingly few solutions for Acadia’s physical defence. The crowd sat on the edge of their seats as the Axewomen chipped closer and closer to breaking the Martlet’s lead. However, the closest they came was a 63–63 tie with 4:45 left in the quarter.
Hakizimana ultimately came to the rescue: She buried three soul-crushing threes to close out the game, rallying the team and inspiring chants of “defence” from the crowd.
“The fact that she made that big shot, it really set the tone for other players to play better too,” Diarra said.
McGill closed out the game with sharp-shooting, going 53.3 per cent from the field, tallying a game high 24 points for the fourth quarter to reach a season-high 79 points and claim the victory over Acadia, 79–67. The late game heroics made for an electrifying experience for those in attendance and bodes well for the season to come.
“I’m excited to start the season, to see what the competition is like,” Diarra said. “I know there’s been a lot of additions to other teams, and I’m feeling really good about our season.”
Moment of the Game
Midway through the fourth quarter, fifth-year guard Gladys Hakizimana hit a deep three to break the 63-63 tie. The shot rallied the team to go on a 16-point scoring run in the last five minutes of the game to close out the win.
“I think my favourite part of being on the team is just being with the girls. Every time we step out on the court, we’re like family, I love them so much.” – Fourth-year centre Sirah Diarra on team dynamics.
The Martlets shot away Acadia’s chance at winning with an incredibly efficient 46.6 per cent from the field and 45.8 per cent from behind the arc.