Friday night brought the second straight tightly contested battle between the Gee-Gees and Gaels, this time with the teams facing off in Kingston with second place in the OUA East on the line. Wire to wire lead changes ultimately led to a 51-47 Queen’s victory, their second over the Gee-Gees this season.
An and-one basket by Maddie Stephen just before the shot clock expired with three minutes to play in the fourth quarter buoyed Ottawa’s chances down the stretch, but the Gee-Gees offence never got another quality look and sputtered late.
Liz Boag sank the final pair of crucial free-throws as part of her 23 point night, which is a season high for the fourth-year guard. Boag carried the Gaels on her back through the first half, scoring 16 of the Gaels’ opening 23 points.
The Gee-Gees were led by Stephen who was dominant down low, posting 12 points and 16 rebounds while holding Queen’s post Gemma Bullard to a scoreless night. Ottawa outrebounded the Gaels by a 49-35 margin, including 21 on the offensive end, but were hobbled by 27 turnovers and anemic shooting. The squad went just 1-15 from beyond the arc and posted an overall percentage of .283.
“It’s not what we expect at this level – we had open shots. There is a mental side coming into play,” said head coach Andy Sparks following the game. “We need more confidence as a team we need to rise to the occasion,” he continued.
Still, Ottawa had its chances to control the game and won the opening quarters of each half. Excellent ball movement and aggressive defence, along with a series of favourable calls from the referees helped the garnet and grey establish a 12-3 lead to open the game. A pair of three-pointers by Boag and some increased defensive pressure brought the score to 14-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Boag hit another pair of three-pointers early in the second quarter after the Gaels defence forced turnovers, giving the gold their first lead at 19-18. The final five minutes of the opening half had strong intensity on both sides without much offence, so the Gaels carried to a 23-22 lead at halftime. Boag had 16 points at the break, while Ottawa committed 14 turnovers.
Angela Tilk came up big with a series of offensive rebounds to start the second half, and the Gaels had difficulties containing her inside, putting the Gee-Gees back in front. Tilk finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds.
The defensive struggle continued until Queen’s went on a quick 8-0 run with two minutes to play at 35-29. Following a timeout, Ottawa stormed back with five points from the free-throw line and a bucket by Danielle Marion to re-take a one-point lead heading into the final frame, 36-35.
The Gee-Gees fall to 12-7 on the year and have gone 1-3 over the last four games. The team will try to get back in the win column on Saturday when they face the York Lions (7-12) in Toronto. The game will be broadcast live on SSN Canada.