Written by ACAC
With only 8 players on the Roster, the St. Mary's Lightning took on the NAIT Ooks for the first-round matchup at Conference Championships. The game started with the Ooks coming down to score quickly on their first trip, only to be answered right away by the Lighting. Both teams started running the floor hard trying to get points early in the possession. When this failed, the defense both seemed collapse and cause turnovers. The lighting were able to hit again taking a 4-2 lead early on. The Ooks hit a deep 3 and took a one-point lead as 4 minutes had run off the clock. The Lighting turned to their star Emily Wagner who was able to score 4 and come up with an assist as the Lightning took a 10-6 lead. with this NAIT took their first timeout with just over half of the quarter gone. The scoring calmed down as the teams traded misses and 2 scoreless minutes disappeared off the clock. Both teams quickly traded baskets and the Ooks hit again quickly cutting the Lightning lead to 2. Wagner scored again and re-established the 2 basket lead. St. Mary's added another basket and went up 6 late. And the quarter ended with the Lightning in the lead, 16-10.
The second quarter opened up with a miss at both ends of the court to get things going. Wagner hit a 3 on the Lightning next possession and opened up a 19-10 lead. Wagner hit her 12th point of the game on the next possession opening up an 11 point lead. Ooks called a quick timeout to settle things down. NAIT came out of the break and scored, but the Lightning quickly answered with a 3. Another NAIT basket cut the lead to 10 and earned a trip to the line right away hitting both. The lead down to 8, the Ooks caused a Lightning turnover, but couldn't convert on second-chance scoring. The Lightning re-established the 10 points lead the midway point of the quarter passed. Both teams were giving up good opportunities and the score quickly climbed as baskets went in on both ends. The back and forth game continued with the Lightning holding a lard lead. with 2:30 left in the half, St. Mary's was up 34-19 and took a timeout to give the short bench a breather. The Lightning struck again out of the break adding a quick 2 more points. At the half, the Lightning led 40-21.
The second half opened with the Ooks with possession. NAIT missed their inside layup on the first possession but came up with a stop on the other end. St. Mary's forward Chayle Clark went down hard and checked out for a minute. Her team increased the lead to 20, 43-23 and the Lightning had firm control on the game. Continuing their high powered offense the Lightning scored quickly and pushed the ball and moved it well between players. NAIT was struggling to find the basket despite a few good opportunities in the quarter, they hadn't scored since their first possession. This almost 4-minute dry spell saw the Lightning pull further away from going up 49-23. The teams both went cold for the next minute with no shots falling until the Ooks finally added 2 more on the board as 5 minutes ticked off the clock. The Lightning hit a 3 to move past 50 before adding another quick 2 to go up 54-25. The Ooks scored on their next possession and were able to come up with a steal on D. Converting on some 4th chance points, the Ooks started to score and cut into the lead. This was not a deep cut as the Lightning continued to hold a big lead. At the end of the quarter, the Lightning held on and extended their lead now 30, 61-31
The 4th quarter saw the Ooks open with a quick steal and fast-break for 2 quick points. They scored again twice before the Lightning responded with a single point making it 62-36. The teams went cold again for over 2 minutes and the score remained just where it was. The Lightning were perfectly content with this and their big lead and tried to use as much of the shot clock as they could. This was against their main strategy so far and saw them struggle to produce offensively. NAIT could not capitalize on this either and struggled as well to find the basket. The drought was finally broken and the Lightning found the basket with 5 quick points. they further increased their lead going up 70-36 with just over 2 minutes on the clock. The Ooks continued to push hard late, but the result was all but final. St. Mary's cruised for the last 2 minutes and held on for a 76-36 victory.
The ACAC Players of the game were Juhee Anderson for St. Mary's and Lauren Payne for NAIT.