Sarah Gates put on an offensive clinic on Thursday afternoon.
The McMaster guard scored 32 points, including a paralyzing step-back three pointer with less than a minute left in the game, to lead the Mauraders to an 86-68 quarter-final victory over the Concordia Stingers in the USPORTS Women’s Final 8 Basketball Championship, Thursday afternoon.
Mauraders will look to keep it rolling against The University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the semi-final game at the Mattamy Athletic Centre at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Gates came on strong to begin the game, torching the Stingers (11-7) for 20 of her 32 points in the first half, helping give the Marauders (24-3) a 44-28 lead to start the second half.
“Honestly, my coaches, coach Theresa and my other coaches have always just told me to shoot, so if it’s open I’m going to shoot it whether I’m hitting them or not,”, said Gates, about being green lit by the coaching staff.
The second year guard explained that part of her success came from having experience in playing in the tournament before.
“Last year I had no idea what was going on, I was so nervous the whole time,” said Gares. “So I think bringing in the whole confidence, or what we learned last year and bringing it in, and using it [with] more confidence this year is huge.
“And that’s speaking for everyone who was there last year too.”
Gates earned the player of the game for McMaster.
Fifth-year player Hilary Hanaka chipped in 15 points and three assists for the Marauders, but fouled out in the fourth quarter. Olivia Wilson was dominant on the glass racking up a total of 11 rebounds while adding 10 points.
Guard Erin Burns scooped up an additional 10 boards in the contest. Burns’ determination was evident late in the fourth quarter when she sprawled out on the hardwood to secure a loose ball.
The Stingers lobbied for a comeback in the third quarter mainly from the strong play of guard Caroline Task.
Task scored 16 of her 32 points in the third frame, including a deep three-pointer from the elbow. The Dorval native brought the Stingers back to within single digits by the fourth quarter.
Task received the player of the game award for the Stingers.
A comeback against the No. 2 ranked team in the nation however, proved to be too tall a task for Concordia, which entered the tournament as a wild-card.
The final nail was put in Concordia’s coffin when McMaster’s veteran forward Christina Buttenham, sprinted from one end of the court to the other to catch up and block an otherwise open lay-up attempt by Caroline Task.
Christina Buttenham is doing her part to preserve the lead late, with this big chasedown stuff!
79-66 Marauders, 3:05 to play! #GoMacGo pic.twitter.com/M6ytNkC9eA
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) March 7, 2019
McMaster head coach Theresa Burns indicated before the game she’d be relying on her veterans to pull out the win, but clearly went with the hot hand in Gates.
“Whoever is scoring is scoring. We’ve found ways to score right through our line-up. Today Gates was unbelievable, tomorrow it could be Linnaea, it could be Gates again, it could be Hillary, they all have the green light to shoot it, said Burns, “If you can see the rim, shoot the ball,”.
Despite the Stingers jumping out to a 7-1 lead to start the contest, the Mauraders settled into their quick paced offence, and were leading by seven at the start of the second quarter. By halftime, McMaster led 44-28.
The Stingers came out cold in the second quarter, and the high-powered transition offence of the Mauraders took control of the game and never looked back.