Sixteen points was all the uOttawa Gee-Gees offence could accumulate in the second half as the University of Toronto Varsity Blues upset the no. 8 ranked team in Canada 52-45 on Friday night. Jill Stratton led Toronto with 19 points, putting the game away with 11 points in the final quarter.
Struggling to gain any offensive flow in the second half was just one way the Gee-Gees fell short.
“There wasn’t any flow on offence. I think our assist to turnover ratio was the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Gee-Gees’ head coach Andy Sparks after the game. “We weren't great in the first half but we defended okay. We opened it to 15, they made a run, then we just didn’t seem to have the fire there. So it was definitely a disappointment for sure.”
The Gee-Gees cooled off on the offensive end in the latter half of the second quarter. They mustered just four points in final 5:11 of the half, all from fifth-year post Angela Tilk. Hitting just six shots on 30 first half attempts, the Blues couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, so the Gee-Gees took a 29-18 lead into the locker room.
Coming out of the break it looked as though uOttawa would lock it up on defence. Toronto then broke out for an 17-0 run, taking the lead by two with 12 seconds to go in the third. Ottawa’s Stephanie MacDonald hit a free throw with 2.6 seconds left to make it a 37-36 game heading into the fourth.
That was only the Gee-Gees’ seventh point in the quarter and first in nearly six and half minutes. But, playing from behind would be short-lived. They bounced back to regain the lead with a 7-0 run to open the final quarter.
The Blues took the lead again 48-43 with less than four minutes to play, capitalizing on a couple Gee-Gee turnovers. They held it at five with 43 seconds to go as uOttawa missed a layup and a pair of free throws. The Gee-Gees couldn’t find a way to the basket after that.
“You look at every (stat) category and they had us,” added Sparks. “So we got in this situation when we opened it up to 42-37 and we had a very key offensive possession. We lost Stratton, and we know she’s their scorer. She knocks down a three and then knocks down another one. All of a sudden we’re on our heels again. We were against a more experienced team and we just didn’t have it.”
The Gee-Gees were held under 50 points for the first time this season. Foul-shooting was another glaring difference. The Blues hit all 12 attempts.
“I think this was a game we sort of did to ourselves,” said Tilk. She was the lone bright spot for uOtttawa, recording 14 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double. “They played an up-tempo style that we weren’t used to,” she observed. “So we need to learn from it. We tried to bring it ourselves and they sort of shut us down. We had a difficult time responding. Luckily we play them again and we can adjust off that.”
The Gee-Gees drop to 8-4 themselves, good enough for second in the OUA East.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Toronto 10 8 19 15 52
Ottawa 16 13 7 9 45