SMU Huskies wrap season with consolation final win in Edmonton

SMU Huskies wrap season with consolation final win in Edmonton

Huskies finish off season with consolation final win over the University of Alberta Pandas

(EDMONTON, AB) - Huskies senior guards Alaina McMillan and Courtney Donaldson combined for 40 points in the final game of their U SPORTS careers, leading Saint Mary's to an emotional 65-62 win over the Alberta Pandas to win the U SPORTS women's basketball Final 8 Consolation Final on Saturday at the Saville Centre in Edmonton.

"They've led us all year, both had great careers, true great leaders and amabassadors of Saint Mary's University, and I'm happy they had great last games and get to go out on a winning note," said Huskies head coach Scott Munro post-game.

"I think it was just staying fundamental, we knew they were big and we had to get boards and play fundamental defence, and I think even without Clara (Gascoigne), we were playing for each other, and playing for her too, and just having fun in our last game," added McMillan post-game.

No team held a lead bigger than seven points as the squads were neck-and-neck throughout the contest. And while they were not separated by much, the largest factor in the Saint Mary's victory was their domination of the boards, eventually finishing with a 51-to-39 rebounding margin (28-to-15 on the offensive glass). With that, they were able to record 15 more (75-to-60) field goal attempts which was the difference in such a tight game.

In the opening minutes, the two teams exchanged baskets, with McMillan and Donaldson combining to make three early three-pointers, but the Pandas were able to respond to tie the game at 9-9. 

Alberta seemed to have an advantage on the interior with forward Shae McCusker getting easy baskets down low and guard Jenna Harpe getting to the free-throw line, leading to a 7-0 run to put the hosts ahead 16-9. But a jump shot from forward Emily Dikdan followed by another three-pointer from Donaldson cut that lead to 18-14 after 10 minutes. 

The Pandas, for the second straight day, impressed from the stripe going 6/7 in the frame. Harpe was the main benefactor as she hit all five of her attempts from the line. The Huskies were elite from deep – going 4-for-10 – but were unable to contain the Pandas on the glass losing the rebounding battle 13-to-10.

Saint Mary's continued their hot outside shooting into the second quarter, with McMillan hitting three more from deep, giving her 15 points on 5/7 from beyond the arc at the half. But Alberta continued to respond, with Jenna Harpe matching McMillan's 15 first-half points.

A lay-in from forward Marlo Steenbakkers gave the Huskies their first lead of the game at 30-29, and another three-pointer from Donaldson helped extend the Huskies lead to 39-37 at the half. 

McMillan led the Huskies with 15 first-half points, but Donaldson was close behind, pouring in 11 points of her own on 4/6 shooting from the field. Saint Mary's shot 40% (8/20) from beyond-the-arc in the first half and also fought hard on the boards, hauling in 11 offensive rebounds leading to eight second chance points.  

It was a high-octane start to the third, as the fresh squads went basket-for-basket until the midway mark. Beaumont was the benefactor for Saint Mary's, getting two offensive boards and putbacks early, while Elise Toogood had two jumpers to respond for the hosts. The steady presence of Rylee Semeniuk, who had a quarter-high 7 points, and rookie Bridgette Olson were too much for the Huskies as the Pandas entered the final frame with a 51-49 advantage.

The Huskies came out swinging in the fourth, immediately taking the lead back thanks to Donaldson who was the focal point of their offence. They led for the majority of the quarter, which set up a 63-60 SMU lead with two minutes remaining. A Semeniuk layup with 30 seconds left made it a 63-62 game, but after McMillan hit both intentional free-throws to make it a three-point game, Harpe missed a potential game-tying shot and the Huskies held on for the Consolation Final victory.

Forward Lucina Beaumont was named Player of the Game for the Huskies, recording a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double, with nine of her points coming in the second half. McMillan led the team with 21 points, including six points in the fourth quarter to help seal the win, and added six rebounds and two steals, while Donaldson poured in 19 points and snagged three steals.

Alberta was paced by leading scorer Jenna Harpe, who finished with 18 points, and Shea McCusker who had a 10 point-13 rebound double-double in her final U SPORTS game.

"I feel good, honestly it wasn't the game we wanted to be playing, but I'm proud of the way we collected ourselves and finished off with two wins so I'm really happy," said McMillan post-game. "We've gotten better every year and I'm so excited to watch them play next year. I told the team, even though we won't be back, Courtney and I want to fight to help you be in a better position for next year. So that's what I was focusing on, just making sure we got that last win and the team can build on that confidence for next season."

Players of the Game

Alberta: #1 Shea McCusker & #4 Jenna Harpe
Saint Mary's: #14 Lucina Beaumont

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