The Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s basketball team withstood a strong push from the York Lions in the fourth quarter to finish the regular season with a 65-55 victory at Montpetit Hall. The win boosts Ottawa’s final record to 15-8, and the Garnet and Grey head into the postseason as the third-place team in the OUA East.
Ottawa will host the first round of the OUA Critelli Cup playoffs on Wednesday, February 21. The Toronto Varsity Blues, as the sixth-place finisher in the OUA East, will travel to Montpetit Hall for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
After Ottawa’s point guard Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus opened the fourth quarter with a bucket to stretch the Ottawa lead to eight, York roared back with seven straight points. The Gee-Gees defence forced a shot clock violation and Amélie Hachey cashed a long two to stop the run.
First year guard Maia Timmons calmly stepped into a wide-open trey to put Ottawa up 57-51 with four and a half minutes remaining. The trey was followed up by another defensive stop. McAlear-Fanus then fed Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu perfectly for a transition lay-up to re-establish a ten-point lead.
“We have to win as a team and today we got a lot more balanced production,” said Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks emphatically. “We made a run with our second unit and I thought defensively there were times where we were really good. Isabelle Dion did a great job on Lindsay Shotbolt.”
A pair of steals with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter allowed Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus to run the floor and dish to Timmons and Lefebvre-Okankwu for transition lay-ins from the right side – Lefebvre-Okankwu converted the and-one on hers to make the score 15-9.
After York briefly held a 20-19 lead, Lefebvre-Okankwu had a couple of key buckets to buoy the Gee-Gees in the second quarter as well, contributing eight points total in the first half. The Gee-Gees lineup of Angela Ribarich, Amélie Hachey, Lefebvre-Okankwu, McAlear-Fanus, and Timmons had a good stretch to take Ottawa into the locker room with a 36-28 lead.
Ottawa fed Ribarich for a pretty inside bucket to open the second half, and an Amelie Hachey three-pointer helped grow the lead to double-digits midway through the third quarter. York used its speed and slashing cuts to pull back within four at 46-42, setting up the fourth quarter comeback attempt.
Lefebvre-Okankwu led all scorers with 16 points, followed by Ribarich’s 14. The Gee-Gees celebrated the careers of the senior players of 2017-18: Isabelle Dion, Akpene Kwamie, and Kellie Forand, as part of the night.