By Kirk Jessome
After a season which saw great improvements, the Tigers women’s basketball team proved they are ready to be a competitive force in the AUS conference now, and in the future.
Led on both ends of the court by third-year forward Robertha Charles with an average of 14 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, the Tigers played with a defensive intensity that was on par with any team in the conference this season. An intensity that head coach Anna Stammberger says she pushed right from September.
“Defence is always stressed as the number one priority throughout the season,” she says. “I think we improved at both ends of the court due to investing time and work into spring and summer training, and a strong 2018 recruiting class was also a huge contributing factor to our success.”
Playing without standout guard Michele Tchiakoua, who left the season early due to injury, the short bench of the Tigers ran into some offensive struggles early on in the schedule, especially on the second weekend of back-to-back games. Forced to adjust their style of play, coach Stammberger says it went nearly as well as it could have.
“I was very proud of how everyone stepped up their game at both ends of the floor and took on more responsibility. Despite the loss (of Tchiakoua), we were still able to improve our game and our record from last season.”
Rallying before the halfway mark of the season, the Tigers carried a three-game win streak through the winter break with wins against StFX (2), and a four-point game against Saint Mary’s to finish with a 3-4 record.
During that time the Tigers were able to get key contributions from their strong line-up of rookies which impressed Stammberger.
“Lia Kentzler, Bridget McSwiggan, Hannah Chadwick and Riley Sood all made great contributions in games and practices. They are a key part of building a very strong foundation for our program and have a bright future at Dalhousie.”
They started the second half of the season with a loss to Acadia before going on another three-game win streak. Losses to UPEI, Cape Breton and Acadia threatened the team’s playoff position. The Tigers closed out the regular season with two wins and two losses and an 8-12 record to earn the sixth spot in the AUS championship tournament.
The Tigers faced the eventual AUS champion Acadia Axewomen in the quarter-final round. They came out strong, but Acadia slowly pulled away, earning the 74-54 victory.
With a large graduating group of seniors in Diedre Alexander, Ashley Cain, Robertha Charles, Sophie Gaube and Michele Tchiakoua, the Tigers women’s basketball team will be looking to a new generation of talent to continue the progress made by the program this year.