HAMILTON – “We’re playing with nothing to lose.”
Those were the words from Jenessa Doctor after the first of two Bronze Quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon. Doctor and the Augustana Vikings picked up a 12-point win over the MSVU Mystics, 80-68, to advance to the Bronze Semifinals on Friday night.
Doctor was named Player of the Game for the Vikings after scoring 16 points, on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor, to go along with two rebounds and three assists.
Katherine Khorovets was named Player of the Game for the Mystics. She recorded 15 points, four rebounds, and two assists in the loss.
“We fought all year to get here,” said Doctor. “We faced Humber in the First Round and they’re a great team, so our mindset today was that we’re playing with nothing to lose so might as well leave it all on the floor.”
Out of the gates, both teams shot the ball well from all over the floor. The Vikings and Mystics went shot-for-shot as both tried to gain some separation on the scoreboard as they looked to keep their medal hopes alive.
The 5:03 mark of the first quarter kicked off a frantic stretch of offense on both sides of the ball. With each shot the Mystics hit, the Vikings had an answer. Chloe Oxner hit a three for the Mystics, only for Mackenzie Mrazik to respond with a layup for the Vikings. Courtney Smith would proceed to hit another three for the Mystics on the next possession, only for Doctor to hit one of her own to answer yet again.
The Mystics would take a five-point lead after the back-and-forth quarter, at 27-22, but the trend would continue throughout the second frame as the Vikings looked to regain the lead themselves.
With 2:29 to play in the first half, Larissa Stephenson hit a three for the Vikings to give them a 42-39 lead. The Vikings would add to their lead before the break, and they turned a five-point deficit after the first quarter into a five-point advantage at halftime, 46-41.
Little did we know at the time, but the Vikings wouldn’t trail again the rest of the way.
Kamryn De Klerk hit a three to open the scoring in the second half, and the Vikings continued to build on their positive momentum as the half wore on. Their lead stretched to as many as 12 points late in the third quarter, and Augustana held a 62-51 advantage after three quarters.
In the fourth, the Mystics did what they could to cut into the deficit, but once again, the Vikings always seemed to have an answer. Alisha McNeil connected on a three-pointer of her own to get the Mystics back within eight with 3:41 to play, but that was as close as they would get. Doctor responded with a layup to push the lead back to 10, and the Vikings came away with the 12-point win.
After falling to Humber on Wednesday, the Vikings bounced back with an 80-68 win over the MSVU Mystics.
Doctor was one of five Vikings players to finish in double-figures on the scoreboard. Tayah Fiveland finished with a double-double, posting 16 points and 11 rebounds. Lauren Cardinal, Wednesday’s Player of the Game for the Vikings, had 12 points and 11 rebounds of her own to go along with six assists. Mrazik had 11 points, while Ella Caillau had 10 points off the bench.
For the Mystics, Alisha McNeil had a game-high 17 points in the loss. Oxner had 13 points and six assists, while Emily Holt added 12 points of her own.
The win sends Augustana to the Bronze Semifinals on Friday night. They will take on the loser of the second Championship Semifinal between the Dawson Blues and VIU Mariners.
As for the Mystics, they will wrap up their National Championship run on Friday in the 7th / 8th Placement Game. They will take on the loser of the second Bronze Quarter-Final matchup between the Red Deer Queens and Mohawk Mountaineers.
- T. Bennett