An 11-5 uOttawa Gee-Gees squad looks to get back on track this weekend when they visit division rivals the Ryerson Rams (5-11) and University of Toronto Varsity Blues (8-8).
Disappointing news came out Tuesday when the team dropped out of the CIS top ten for the first time all season after going 3-2 over their last five games.
“After a tough loss last weekend against Queen's, we had to regroup again and refocus,” says Francesca Bellehumeur-Moya, the third-year nursing student, one of two veteran players on the active roster last weekend but unable to play due to injury.
“We went into last weekend without many players, which gave our rookies large shoes to fill. They gained experience. This upcoming weekend in Toronto will most likely be the same in terms of numbers. So I would say the key to winning is about how we all step up, work as a team, stay composed in pressure situations and properly execute our offensive and defensive systems.”
Bellehumeur-Moya and team leading-scorer, Stephanie MacDonald will be able to return to action this weekend. Head coach Andy Sparks says he wants to avoid another situation where his team gets worn down like in the late stages of their last game against Queen’s.
“I hope we are a little more healthy and ready to go,” he says. “It’s going to be a tough weekend with two very good teams to play. Obviously making some shots is a priority. We did not shoot well last weekend. We also need to establish our post play in these games.”
The teams’ situation is by no means devastating at a crucial point in the season. They remain two points behind the Carleton Ravens for first in the OUA East with six games to play – all of which are against division opponents. They’re as well positioned as any team to make noise in the playoffs.
“We were upset by coming up short against Queen's, but as a team we are taking it as a learning experience considering how much our bench had to suddenly step up and play starting minutes,” adds Bellehumeur-Moya. “With that aside, we're proud with the way we battled last weekend and after reviewing video and improving from our mistakes, we feel ready and confident to take on Toronto and Ryerson this weekend.”
The Gee-Gees aren’t about to let Toronto sweep the season series after they squeaked out a win their last meeting on January 17. uOttawa will look to contain Jill Stratton, who was a big reason for that Toronto win with her game-high 19 points. The Blues are arguably the OUA East’s hottest team as the season heads down the stretch. After starting the season 0-6 they’ve won seven of the last 10. One of those losses was a one-point decision at Carleton.
Don’t expect the Gee-Gees to take Ryerson lightly either. The Rams are anxious to hold on to the final playoff spot in the OUA East. They hold a slim two-point lead heading into the weekend. But, they’re wounded as well losing five of their past six.
The long-held concept that games can be won and lost on free throws is another consideration to take into this weekend. In the past five outings, the Gee-Gees have shot 60 per cent from the line.