By Mike Gange for CIS
FREDERICTON (CIS) – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies are the 2016 ArcelorMittal-Dofasco CIS Women's Basketball Champions. The Huskies take home the gold medal and the Bronze Baby trophy, which is emblematic of national university women's basketball supremacy. The Huskies defeated the Ryerson University Rams 85-71, before a national television audience and more than 1000 fans, at the University of New Brunswick's Richard J. Currie Center, in Fredericton.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wbkb/index
Fifth year Huskie Dalyce Emmerson was named to the tournament all-star team and was also tournament MVP. She said the veterans helped settle down the whole team. "We were composed. Those emotions have been a factor when I have played in previous national finals, but this time, the senior girls led the way."
Ryerson had a 22-18 lead in the first quarter, but Saskatchewan took a two-point lead into the half. "We were never in doubt," said Emmerson. "We weathered the storm, and kept coming. The turning point had to be going into the half by a one or two, and knowing we could keep the lead."
By half-time, Saskatchewan led 42-40, and had an edge in rebounds 22-18. The Huskies kept the lead through the third quarter 69-61, and the edge in rebounds 30-24.
Huskies coach Lisa Thomaidis was emotional after the game. The championship was the first for the Huskies women's basketball team. "Winning this makes you realize how special it is in this league, and how many things have to fall into place in order to win," said Thomaidis, who has also coached on the international scene. "This is different than international, where you are together for a summer or a season. This is big because we have a lot of time invested in the players, and the players have a lot invested in the program. In some cases, we have been together everyday for the past five years."
At half-time Thomaidis said she told her players they had turned the corner. "I said, Ryerson has thrown their best at us in the first half, and in the second half we could lock it down."
The Huskies have 4 players graduating. "The senior players showed their leadership. And the young players learned a lot from being here. You can't win this tournament with first year players. You need those veterans to bring that."
Ryerson's Keneca Pingue-Giles had 26 points in the losing cause. "I shot a lot, but they weren't falling for me, unlike other games in this tournament. They played us tough and things fell in for them."
Ryerson coach Carly Clarke gave credit to Saskatchewan for finding a way to win. "They disrupted our flow. They brought a balanced attack and three or four players who could deliver," she said.
Clarke was emotional after the game. "I'm proud of winning the silver. It's huge, but we were right in this game," she said.
Ryerson was in its first national women's basketball final, so earning the silver medal was historic. "The silver is a testament to the hard work our team has done," said Clarke. "We held our own today, and all of us are proud of our time on the team," she said.
Keneca Pingue-Giles was player of the game for Ryerson, and Laura Dally, who had 25 points and six rebounds, was the player of the game for Saskatchewan.
Tournament All Stars were also named: Regina Cougars Charlotte Kot, Ryerson Rams Silvana Jez and Keneca Pingue-Giles, and Saskatchewan Huskies Laura Dally and Daylce Emmerson.
Total attendance for today's final game was 1066.