Cougars hearts blow up on Valentine’s day

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Efforts trump outcomes in playoff loss

The basketball season came to a very abrupt ending on Valentine’s day. The love affair with the Cougars has ended unsatisfyingly (pun dutifully intended). The was a palpable enjoyment with the basketball teams this year have been different because in some way they were underdogs that played hard still. The expectations are always playoffs for the women in particular – they have been a top team for a long time – but expectations were tempered this year. With the losses from last year combined with the injuries and tough schedule this year, the women’s team was doomed. The team was quite streaky this year and were about a .500 team but lost their last five games including their 49-69 loss.

In the game against Victoria, the teams went in seemingly evenly matched; however, they failed to capitalize on the opportunity to go forward in the playoffs. Whether it was tired legs or just a bad night, the Cougars could not hit shots, and in a game where making them is important to winning that’s not ideal. The Cougars shot 27 per cent from the field and 19 per cent from 3-point range. The trio of Marissa Dheensaw, Aleah Ashlee, and Ashlyn Day nearly outscored the Cougars by themselves with 17, 15, and 15 points respectively on over 50 per cent shooting.

Coach Taylor, speaking with Cougars media, stood up for his team on a tough night, valuing the effort they displayed.

“It wasn’t one of our better nights and not for lack of effort on our part. We just didn’t shoot the ball well enough, and credit to Victoria. I thought they were very aggressive tonight and they did a good job of attacking when we were trying to play our way out of a hole.”

Coach Taylor is certainly not off base, his team grabbed 16 offensive boards and limited the Vikes 3-point shooting to 20 per cent. Yet, at the end of the day the Cougars missed 55 shots in 40 minutes of basketball and that proved to be too much to overcome.

The whole team has struggled shooting, the starters in particular, since the calendar turned to 2020. When splitting the blame pie for the starters, Faith Reid has struggled in particular, in her last 10 games she is 37-126, which is just under 30 per cent shooting. Meanwhile co-offensive burdens Michaela Kleisinger and Macaela Crone have been shooting above 40 per cent on almost exactly the same volume, 52-125 (42 per cent) and 59-129 (46 per cent). Reid does have the unpleasant job of spacing the floor as she takes more 3-pointers than the others which genuinely contributes to her poorer shooting numbers. However, if it’s your job to knock down those shots, the offence will struggle if you’re not hitting them; this explains why the Cougars have really struggled down the stretch. Alexi Rowden and a combination of Avery Pearce and Madeline Tell have held down the other two starting spots and have done a solid job contributing. Rowden has knocked down 43 per cent of her attempts, while the combination of Tell and Pearce in that fifth spot have shot 33 per cent.

Ultimately, this is one of the best outcomes given the situation the team was saddled with to begin the season. The team made the playoffs and perhaps in an alternate universe would have gone through the playoff game but, out of the unlimited number of possible outcomes, this was likely the most plausible, which sets the mood into a mild content for this season and hunger for the next.

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