Too big, too strong, too tough.
That was the story for the #2-seeded Red River Rebels women’s basketball team all weekend, and they rode that storyline all the way to an MCAC championship Saturday night.
Playing against the Cinderella story of the Basketball Final 4’s, the #4-seeded Providence Lady Freemen, who upset the #1-seeded College Wesmen Friday afternoon, the Rebels played tight defense and used their strength inside to get a 68-51 win in the Women’s Championship final.
Leading the way for Red River was regular season and tournament Most Valuable Player Abby Silva, whose defensive pressure at the point position and 25 points on offense dictated the tempo of the game and got her team the win.
Helping out was forward Tremaine Francis, who had 18 points and made her presence inside felt by a smaller Lady Freemen front line.
To their credit, Providence stayed within striking distance in the first half, thanks to another active rebounding game from Christine Parker and challenging three-pointers by Melanie Warkentin.
In the second half, though, the Rebels used a half court trap to frustrate the Lady Freemen and pad the steals numbers for Silva, as they turned defense to offense to the tune of a 20-point lead in the third quarter.
For the Rebels, who played in front of a raucous home crowd, it is their first women’s championship since 2009. CMU and University of Winnipeg won in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Other Saturday action saw the women’s bronze game. After losing only their second game of the year, the #1 University of Winnipeg College Wesmen came out with a vengeance, blowing out #3 CMU 93-47.
– John Gaudes