In the biggest game with the highest stakes, Atlantic University Sport’s top player delivered as advertised.
Fourth-year guard Kelsey Hodgson had a sensational 36-point outing to propel her Cape Breton Capers to an 80-75 victory over the host Dalhousie Tigers in the AUS women’s basketball final yesterday afternoon at Dalplex.
Hodgson’s performance was a continuation of one of the most dominating offensive seasons in conference history, and came in the face of heavy defensive pressure from fifth-year stalwarts Kelly Donald and Brianna Orr.
“I knew teams were going to come after me,” said Hodgson, a native of Fredericton, N.B., who led the nation with 25.8 points per game and set the AUS’s single-season scoring record.
“But it came down to my teammates. They got me the ball at the right times, right in my shooting pocket.”
The Capers broke open a 51-51 tie late in the third quarter by going on a 15-2 run. Dal narrowed the gap to three points twice in the final minute, but Hodgson, the conference’s best free throw shooter, calmly went six-for-six from the stripe in the final 35.4 seconds to seal it for the Capers.
“All those goofballs at the end, trying to get you off your shot … It felt really good just to sink six and say, ‘Shut up,’ basically,” Hodgson said. “And we won it.”
Dalhousie was hoping to win its first championship since 2001, the last time it hosted the tournament. The Capers, who have won three titles in the past six years, and the Memorial Sea-Hawks, with five, have won every banner since.
The Tigers, who didn’t have the benefit of a quarter-final bye as the Capers did, received a 27-point, nine-assist, eight-steal showing from Jenna Kaye. Laurie Girdwood added 19 points and 11 rebounds, while seniors Donald and Orr were tireless in their effort to slow the five-foot-10 Hodgson.
“We didn’t come out as strong as we did (in Saturday’s 23-point semifinal win over Memorial),” said Donald, named to the tournament all-star team along with Kaye.
“We gave a good effort, it was just Cape Breton finessed more, with scoring and rebounding. They consistently outplayed us and we wish them luck at (nationals).”
The CIS championship starts Friday in Regina.