Sydney Stewart, a fourth-year forward from Sarnia, Ont., was dominant over the weekend as the Memorial Sea-Hawks climbed to .500 on the year with a sweep of the Dalhousie Tigers at the Field House.
They were the home-opening Atlantic University Sport women’s basketball games for Lady Birds, who kicked off the season a week ago in Wolfville, N.S., dropping a pair of contests to the Acadia Axewomen.
But Stewart would have none of that at The Nest, with a 27-point effort Sunday in Memorial’s 87-58 win. Saturday night, the Sea-Hawks rolled to an 80-58 victory, led by Stewart’s 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Memorial’s men’s squad also played its home openers on the weekend, but the storyline wasn’t as good as the three-time defending conference champion Tigers humiliated the Sea-Hawks, 87-54 Saturday night and 101-66 Sunday.
“If she’s not the best in the conference,” Lady Birds coach Mark English said of Stewart, who was third in conference scoring last season, averaging 15.6 points per game, “she’s definitely in the conversation.
“And the thing is, she’s improved a lot, working on her outside shot. She was here all summer, working on her game, and it’s showing early on.”
English aims to have a running game this year, which is all fine and dandy, but you need to get the ball before dashing down the floor.
Last weekend, the Sea-Hawks were out-rebounded 109-72 in the two games against Acadia. This past weekend, vs the Tigers, Memorial pulled down 82 boards to Dalhousie’s 71.
“We wanted to win the glass this weekend, and we wanted to do a better job boxing out,” English said. “I think we did that.”
The Sea-Hawks last year had Grace Diaz-Brito in the lineup, and all the Spaniard did was average 7.8 rebounds per game. Diaz-Brito is not back in the fold this season, meaning Memorial will have to be tougher as a group under the boards.
“Grace is a big loss, and the girls know it, but I brought along some stats from last year and showed them there were some games when Grace didn’t play all that much,” English said.
“You could almost see it in their faces, like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s true.’ It’s a confidence thing.”
Sunday, Brooklyn Wright backed up Stewart’s performance with 14 points, and Lindsay Taylor and Hallie Nickerson both scored 10.
Taylor netted 12 points, going four-for-seven from three-point range, and Nickerson scored 15 points off the bench Saturday night.
Taylor, Brooklyn Wright, Sammi Deakin-Sharpe and Ashley Collins all grabbed five rebounds apiece.
The pair of losses Saturday and Sunday dropped the men’s team to 0-4 on the year after losing twice to Acadia on opening weekend.
The Sea-Hawks finished fourth in the conference last season at 12-8, but lost their dominant player, 6-9 post Vasilije Curcic, to graduation and nobody was brought in to replace him.
Nathan Barker scored 15 points Saturday night and 19 Sunday. Daniel Gordon netted 11 Saturday and 10 in Sunday’s rematch.
Both Sea-Hawks’ teams are home again next weekend, playing host to St. Francis Xavier University. The X-Men are 0-3, while the X-Women are 0-4.