Memorial Sea-Hawks’ head coach Doug Partridge believes his team can beat the odds this weekend.
The fourth-seeded Sea-Hawks take on fifth-seeded Acadia Axewomen eight o’clock to night in the quarter-final round of the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) women’s basketball championship at the Field House.
The Sea-Hawks will need to win three straight games to take the title, but Partridge and his players believe it’s can be done.
“It’s in them to do it,” said Partridge of his players. “I can’t put something in their mind and tell them to do it. They have to believe they can do it.
“We’ve beaten every team in the league this year. We’ve played very well at times and they need to put everything together this weekend and believe they are here to win.
The other quarter-final, which features third-seed St. Francis Xavier X-Women against sixth-seed Saint Mary’s Huskies, begins at six o’clock.
The defending AUS champion Cape Breton Capers, who finished on top in the regular-season standings, and second-place University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds have first-round byes.
Semifinals will be played 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, with championship game going 1 p.m. Sunday.
While the Sea-Hawks may believe they have what it takes to go all the way, Partridge certainly isn’t looking past Acadia.
“We prepare only for the first game,” he said.
“We dwell on what we have to do to win our first game.
“We have a little more experience than they (Axewomen) do and we’re playing on our home court and that’s worth a little bit, but there’s not a lot to choose between the two teams. It’s just about who plays hard on the day.
MUN and Acadia split their two regular-season games last weekend in Wolfville, N.S.
“We don’t have any shortage of offence or ability to score the ball,” said Partridge, “but for us, it’s more about defence. We can’t give up 70 points a game.
“The bottom line is if we play the way we want to play and take care of the basketball, we’ll be all right,” he added.
“If we don’t take care of th ball and we don’t play the way we need to defensively, then we’re in trouble.”
Partridge believes the home fans will give his team an important lift.
“I remember our (season) opener against Cape Breton and you could see the energy from the crowd lifting our players in the fourth quarter,” Partridge said about the capacity turnout at the Field House for that November game, which the Sea-Hawks won 80-64.
The Lady Hawks never looked more enthusiastic that they did in that contest against their long-time rivals.
“We’ll see how it goes,” said Partridge.
“It’s certainly a heck of a lot better to be playing at home than on the road.”
Fourth-year MUN guard Brittany Dalton likes the first-round match-up against the Axewomen.
“We’re pretty excited because I think the first game get the jitters out and the fans will be behind us. It’s the first time I haven’t had a bye since I was with the team, but I’m pretty positive about it.”
Dalton said Memorial plays with a lot of emotion and the fan support will only help the team because the more excited they are the better they play.
“Acadia is a young team like us and there are a lot of similarities, but having home court favours us.”
Acadia Axewomen coach Bev Greenlaw was asked his opinion on what it would take to win the rubber match between the two teams, but would offer only: “We will play as well as we can.”
Now, there’s a coach who desperately wants to avoid providing any bulletin board material for the opposition.