uOttawa top scorers: Bess Lennox 11 points, 9 rebounds; Hannah Sunley-Paisley 9 points, 17 rebounds; Jenna Gilbert 9 points
UBC top scorers: Kristjana Young 17 points, 6 rebounds; Zara Huntley 14 points, 10 rebounds
The Gee-Gees got the physical battle they were hoping for against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the CIS semifinal Sunday night. However, an offensive dry spell in the fourth quarter allowed UBC to stretch a lead wide enough to carry them into the National Championship game with a 59-51 win.
Ottawa will play in the CIS Final Eight bronze medal game on Monday evening against the loser of the second semifinal being played late Sunday between Calgary and Windsor. The bronze medal game tips off at 3 p.m. in Calgary (5 p.m. eastern).
“We had four or five mental breakdowns and that was the difference,” said Ottawa head coach Andy Sparks of the disappointing result. “We were expecting a battle and it was; full credit to them […] But that’s not the story we wanted to write. We felt that we had a team that was strong enough to win it.”
Ottawa’s plan to play physically took a toll as Teddi Firmi and Kellie Ring picked up quick fouls and spent a good portion of the first half on the bench. UBC rejected a pair of Ottawa attempts late in the half, sending the T-Birds into the locker room with a slim 32-30 lead. UBC continued to assert themselves defensively, while avoiding fouls called against them, swatting away seven shots by the end of the game.
UBC’s leading scorer Kristjana Young hit an impressive jumper over the Gee-Gees defense to extend the T-Birds’ early lead to 6-2. It proved to be a sign of things to come as she paced the Thunderbirds over the course of the game, ultimately pouring in 17 points for the victors.
Kellie Ring picked up her fourth foul at the five minute mark of the third quarter and did not return until UBC took a 49-47 lead at the midway mark of the fourth. The game was tied at 40-40 for a long stretch until Maddie Stephen put Ottawa ahead with a basket in traffic under the net. Stephen was also a force on the boards, tearing down six rebounds on the day.
With the score 55-51 and 42 seconds remaining, UBC got a key steal, stripping the ball off a Gee-Gee defensive rebound following a defensive stand. That forced Ottawa to begin sending Thunderbirds to the line. Down by 57-51, two Ottawa three pointers were unsuccessful, and the T-Birds’ veteran post Zara Huntley nailed a pair of shots to extend the lead beyond reach.
The game featured four lead changes and was tied five times. Ottawa shot 22 per cent in the second half, compared to British Columbia’s 36 per cent.