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MBNA Capital Hoops Classic Preview: uOttawa going for third straight trophy

Thursday February 4, 2016
Photo: 
Richard A. Whittaker

The tenth annual MBNA Capital Hoops Classic will see the no. 8 ranked University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s basketball team take on the Carleton Ravens this Friday night at the Canadian Tire Centre with numerous winning streaks on the line.  The Gee-Gees (11-1) will look to capture the Capital Hoops trophy for the third straight season while also extending a winning streak against Carleton to five games with the last loss coming in 2014. Ottawa heads into the contest on an eight-game winning streak overall which includes its 69-56 victory over the Ravens (8-4) on January 16.

Last-minute tickets are available on CapitalTickets.ca, while student sections are expected to be sold out on Thursday.

Retribution for last year’s defeat seems a daunting task for the Ravens as the Gee-Gees sit atop the OUA North Division Standings with best overall record in the OUA. The Ravens shouldn’t be overlooked however as Carleton is coming off a hot-handed weekend with a 20-point divide in last weekend’s big win over the then no. 10 ranked Queen’s (9-3).

The rivals’ most recent encounter saw Carleton hacking away at Ottawa’s lead. The Ravens were strong contenders on the court for the first three quarters until late in the fourth as Gee-Gees began to pull away with the help of Julia Soriano, drilling a jumper from the baseline side in the corner, giving Ottawa a 14-point edge. Soriano broke the game wide open connecting from deep going 6-10, helping the Gee-Gees achieve an impressive 42.9 per cent from beyond the arc.

Ottawa was able to hold top scorer Heather Lindsay to just eight points, almost half her average scoring per game at 15.3 points. But other players are ready and able to overcome the low block drought just as Lindsey Suprunchuk, a six-foot-one forward, came off the bench for Carleton and dropped a double-double with 14-points and 10 rebounds in the contest.

To stave off defeat in the upcoming contest, offensively Ottawa will look to play high-tempo basketball to create open looks in their favour. On the defensive end, “controlling [Carleton’s] high-low game and putting good ball pressure on the perimeter will be a major part of our focus,” said head coach Andy Sparks.

The Gee-Gees may also look to capitalize on turnovers – Carleton ranks 31st in the country with an average of 19.2 per game while the steady-handed garnet and grey rank ninth at 15.8. Ottawa also has a big advantage in the offensive rebounding department, ranking fourth in the nation with 16.3 per game. With shooting percentages typically suffering in Canadian Tire Centre, those extra possessions could loom large.

Friday’s MBNA Capital Hoops Classic will also be a Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) “Mental Health Matchup.” These are varsity or club events held across the country that work to raise awareness of mental health and illness in sport, while connecting student-athletes with locally available mental health resources.

The game will be broadcast live on TSN1200 and OUA.tv.