By John DeCoste
The Acadia women’s basketball team started – and finished – the Jan. 5 AUBC game against UPEI with just eight players, but despite that, and thanks to what head coach Bev Greenlaw termed “a phenomenal team effort,” scored a 63-45 victory.
Already missing leading scorer Kristy Moore due to an ankle injury, the Axewomen learned literally two days before the game that Emily Nkosi will have to leave Acadia and return to the U.S. due to what Greenlaw termed “a family medical situation.”
“It’s a shame,” he said, “because Emily was really fitting in well and added so much to our team and program, but health and family have to take precedence.”
Without Moore and Nkosi, who between them were averaging 38 points per game this season, Acadia was left with just eight healthy players, “five of whom, up to last week, were the last five players on our bench.”
Sophomore Carlie MacDonald joined Lindsay Harris, Abbey Duinker, Rita Sibo and Rachel Savage in the starting lineup, and the Axewomen “literally had 48 hours to design a defensive strategy that would allow us to compete.”
Enter assistant coach Adam Detienne, who according to Greenlaw, “was responsible for designing, and implementing, the defence we used” successfully against UPEI.
“Under the circumstances, we felt there were changes we needed to make. Adam installed the defence; full marks to him, and to the kids for making it work.”
The ‘new-look’ Axewomen held UPEI - no longer an AUBC pushover - to 14 points in the first quarter, 11 in the second and 14 in the fourth – and as the piece de resistance, outscored the Panthers 22-6 in the third quarter to put the game away.
In “a four-point game we really needed to win,” the Axewomen – all eight of them - stood tall as a group and got the job done.
“I’m extremely proud of all of them,” Greenlaw said after the game.
Harris, who has been outstanding all season, led the way offensively with 21 points and eight rebounds to claim Player of the Game honours for Acadia.
Duinker chipped in 19 points, five rebounds and four of Acadia’s seven blocked shots (Harris had two blocks and MacDonald one, to go along with four and five steals respectively).
Rita Sibo was the ‘unsung hero’, contributing nine points, a team-high 10 rebounds, three assists and five steals in 37 minutes.
First-year guard Aprille Deus contributed a pair of key three-pointers, and seldom-used Chika Chiekwe and Maya Macatumpag did well when called upon.
Chiekwe, in fact, ended up playing 10 minutes, with two rebounds and an assist.
Greenlaw stressed after the game, “this literally all came together the day before yesterday. We spent yesterday’s entire practice working on the defence.”
The Axewomen are back in action Jan. 11 when they host Dalhousie.