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The pain is still evident a day after the Holland College Hurricanes women’s basketball team lost the national final on a three-point shot with half a second left.
“Heartache. Heartache. Heartache,” head coach Mike Connolly said Sunday from Windsor, Ont. “(The team is) struggling dealing with it, just the way it all unfolded. It was so unfortunate.”
The Hurricanes were up 49-47 with eight seconds left and Hurricanes forward Ashley Moss going to the free-throw line. She missed both and the Humber Hawks raced down the floor and Ruth Holland, who had five points until that point, hit an open trey to give the Hawks a 50-49 victory in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association final.
“The basketball gods were not with us,” Connolly said. “It was very painful. We spent a lot of time supporting, consoling, being there with them last night. They were pretty disheartened.”
The game was sloppy throughout and dominated by defence. Neither team could go on a run and take over the game.
Humber led 9-5 after the first quarter, but trailed 22-20 at the break and 38-33 heading to the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes were up 49-42 with about three minutes to play, but could close out the contest.
“We missed golden opportunities many, many times,” Connolly said. “It just seemed the ball wasn't falling our way.”
Candace Smith had 14 points to pace the Hurricanes while Jenea Barrett had 13 and Chelsea Slawter-Wright had seven. Moss had 15 rebounds, three points, three blocks, three steals and two assists.
Barrett and Jazlin Barker were named to the tournament’s first all-star team and Moss the second team.
In time, Connolly hopes the players realize they have accomplished a lot this season to finish second in the country.
“I’m very, very, very proud of my girls,” he said. “They played their hearts out. There certainly was no lack of effort.”
He pointed out the difference in the student body between the two colleges with Humber having 27,500 and Holland College 2,500.
To be able to compete at that level, Connolly said, takes the support of Holland College’s athletics department and senior administration.
“They understand the value of successful varsity programs and I’m very thankful for that,” he said.
Barrett played her final year of eligibility while Connolly said universities have interest in some of the other players. It could mean a much different looking squad in September.
Connolly said they would recruit hard and try to get back to nationals and capture the gold medal. The team finished fifth in 2014, won bronze in 2015 and silver in 2016.