New season, same old rivalry

John Browne
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MUN, CBU show they’re still teams to be reckoned with as they split at the Field House

There hasn’t been much to choose between the Memorial Sea-Hawks and Cape Breton Capers in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) women’s basketball in recent years and there still doesn’t seem to be much difference in the teams, at least based on the weekend’s head-to head, season-opening series at the Field House.

Two-time defending champion Cape Breton defeated host Memorial 64-56 to earn a split of a two-game season-opening series after the Sea-Hawks won 80-64 Saturday night.

It’s a typical start between the two rival teams which have dominated the Atlantic conference in recent years.

Over the past nine years, Memorial has won five AUS titles and CBU has won the other four.

MUN was runner-up to the Capers in the regular-season standings last season and, based on the first two matches, fans could be looking at another one-two finish.

Still, Sea-Hawks’ coach Doug Partridge said you can’t really read anything into the weekend outcome between the two sides.

“This is not a sprint. This is a marathon,” Partridge said of the AUS season.

“You’ve got to look at everything piece by piece. We needed a win in four-point games and we got one. We got better in a number of things, particulary defectively. And we just need to keep going forward,.

“They (CBU) answered the bell a little more than we did (Sunday).”

Partridge felt his team was “a bit hungrier” than the Capers in Saturday’s game because he Sea-Hawks “desperately needed a win,” after losing several pre-season games.

“A couple of people were kind of sad in our dressing room after today’s (Sunday’s) loss,” said Partridge, “but we just went over the things we have to get better at.”

Cape Breton coach Fabian McKenzie challenged his players to work hard Sunday for 40 minutes

“They responded, so I’m very happy,” he said. “We played a whole lot tougher over the entire  game than we did last (Saturday) night.

“All credit to MUN Saturday. They out-gutted us when it came down to the crunch.”

On Sunday, the Capers were led by a stellar performance off the bench by six-foot-two Baltimore, Md., native Denisha Hay, who scored 12 points and pulled down 17 rebounds while thwarting MUN’s offence with seven, second-half blocks.

“She can be an intimidator and she really helped us today,” said McKenzie, who isn’t surprised the teams split the weekend games.

“There’s a lot of talk around about parity in the league this season and I think it’s here,” he said.

The Capers bench outscored MUN’s 31-12 Sunday and Partridge acknowledged, “We need our bench to produce a little more to give us a chance to rest our starters a little bit more. It’s certainly something we’d like to see and they’re working on it.

Grace Fishbein had an outstanding game for the Lady Hawks, with 26 points and eight rebounds, while hitting two three-pointers

The Sea-Hawks pulled away in the fourth quarter to win Saturday night before a raucous, capacity crowd.

Brittany Dalton was superb for MUN, with 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

MUN assistant coach Nathan Agnew, filling in for Partridge who was suspended for Saturday’s season opener, said, “All we had to do was come out and execute — from beginning to end — the things we wanted to do and the things we practised all week.

 “We also need to play with intensity and, if we do that, we can play with anyone,” Agnew said after guiding the Lady Hawks to victory.

MUN takes on University of New Brunswick next weekend in Fredericton.

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport, Field House, University of New Brunswick

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Baltimore, Md., Fredericton.jbrowne

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