(with files from OUA)
The University of Ottawa's Montpetit Hall will serve as host to the OUA Final Four starting on Friday, March 11, which includes four teams vying for their chance to hoist the inaugural Critelli Cup on Saturday.
Tickets are available on the Gee-Gees tickets website.
(1) Ottawa Gee-Gees vs. (4) McMaster Marauders
Andy Sparks, who was recently named OUA Coach of the Year, will bring his No. 6 nationally ranked Gee-Gees and their shutdown defence up against the No. 8 McMaster Marauders.
After allowing the second fewest points per game (56.6) and holding opponents to the lowest field goal percentage in the league (32.7) during the regular season, the Gee-Gees' strong defence carried over to the postseason, as they held the Guelph Gryphons to a mere 43 points in their quarter-final matchup.
First-team all-star Kellie Ring (Ottawa, Ont.) played a big part in the Gee-Gees doing so, as she snagged a game-high nine defensive rebounds. Ring was just a rebound shy of a double-double, as she added 13 points in the victory. Centre Katherine Lemoine (Cornwall, Ont.) led the Gee-Gees in points, recording a game-high of 16, while collecting eight boards.
In addition to Ring, Ottawa's Catherine Traer (Chelsea, Que.) and Julia Soriano (Toronto, Ont.) recently received all-star honours, as they were named to the OUA second-team. Traer was fourth in the province this season with 16 points per game, while Soriano's 44.2% shooting from three-point territory was second in OUA.
The Marauders, who are also nationally ranked, reached the semifinal round by taking down the Queen's Gaels in quarter-final action, 65-55.
As is traditionally the case for the Marauders, they were led by Danielle Boiago (Hamilton, Ont.) upfront, as she finished with game-highs in points (22) and steals (4), while grabbing nine rebounds. On defence, Clare Kenney (Gananoque, Ont.) snatched a game-high 12 rebounds, while adding three takeaways and a block. Linnaea Harper (Newmarket, Ont.) also played an important role in the win, as the kinesiology student-athlete recorded 12 points and two blocks off the bench, while dishing out three assists.
Boiago is coming off a recent first-team all-star selection, her third all-star honour, while Kenney was named a second-team all-star for the second time in her career.
The two teams squared off on Feb. 12, in a game that went right down to the final buzzer, as the Gee-Gees narrowly edged out the Marauders 61-60. Lemoine had game-highs in rebounds (16) and assists (5), to go along with 13 points, while Boiago had a big game in the losing effort, scoring just under half of her team's points, a game-high 25, adding 14 boards.
(2) Ryerson Rams vs. (6) Windsor Lancers
Ryerson, the No. 4 ranked team in the nation, enters Friday having won 10 straight games and is coming off a dominant season which saw them score the most points per game in OUA (80.3), while also collecting the most rebounds per game in the province (46.7).
They boast the 2015-16 OUA Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in guard Keneca Pingue-Giles (Winnipeg, Man.), who had the second most points per game in the province with 17.9. The first-team all-star honouree also had the most steals (79) and field-goals (129) in OUA, while dishing out the fourth most assists (77).
Pingue-Giles' fellow first-team all-star Sofia Paska (Etobicoke, Ont.) will be another player to keep an eye on in the semifinal matchup. Paska finished in the top 10 in the league in scoring with 15.2 points per game, while compiling the third best field-goal percentage, with a mark of 52.0.
The Rams cruised to victory in their quarterfinal matchup, beating up on the Western Mustangs 83-64. Pingue-Giles tossed out a game-high eight assists, while contributing 21 points and a team-high four steals. But it was guard Silvana Jez (Kitchener, Ont.) who was arguably the Rams' best player in the win, as she scored a game-high 22 points, while attaining team-highs in both rebounds (8) and takeaways (4).
The Lancers are the only team from the preliminary round to remain in playoffs, and even though they have won six of the past seven OUA championships, they will enter the semi-final round as arguably the underdogs.
Windsor will hope to keep the upset train rolling, after knocking off the No. 3 seed Carleton Ravens 63-48 in the quarter-final round. Carly Steer (Windsor, Ont.) led the Lancers with a game-high 19 points, while 2015-16 all-stars Emily Prevost (Montreal, Que.) and Cheyanne Roger (Etobicoke, Ont.) weren't far off with 17 points each. Roger also added 10 rebounds for a double-double, to go along with her game-high five blocks.
Prevost and Roger, who ranked fourth and fifth in OUA shooting, going 49.3% and 49.2% from the field, respectively, were big reasons why Windsor owned the league's second most points per game mark (75.3). This should make for a shoot first, offence-filled semifinal showdown against the Rams' No. 1 offence.
The Lancers handed the Rams what would end up being one of just three losses for them on the season back on Nov. 18, by a score of 95-79. Three players recorded double-doubles for the Lancers in the victory: Prevost, with 20 points and 11 rebounds, Roger, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Andrea Kiss (Tecumseh, Ont.), with game-highs of 29 points and 17 rebounds. Pingue-Giles scored a team-high 27 points for the Rams, while Paska led the way for them on the boards, with eight rebounds.
The semifinal round will commence Friday with the Marauders and Gee-Gees, with tipoff taking place at 6:00 p.m., followed by the Lancers and Rams at 8:00 p.m.
The winners of each matchup will face off for the Critelli Cup in the gold medal game the following day at 8:00 p.m., which will be preceded by the bronze medal game at 6:00 p.m.