What better way to start a playoff run than with a rivalry game on your home court? The OUA’s sixth ranked uOttawa Gee-Gees will do just that Wednesday night when they host cross-town rival and 11th ranked Carleton Ravens in the first round of the OUA playoffs.
It will be a perfect chance to return the favour to Carleton who knocked the Gee-Gees out of the playoffs last season in a 57-39 win at the Raven’s Nest.
If recent history is any indication, expect a close, low-scoring game. The last five meetings between these two teams over the past two seasons have yielded three wins and two losses for uOttawa with the winner putting up 60 points or less each time. The games were also decided by an average margin of just eight points. Both meetings this season have gone to the Gee-Gees by five and six points respectively.
The Ravens have limped into the playoffs, with just four wins in 2015 and seven losses. But that certainly doesn’t mean they won’t be on their game on Wednesday.
“I know it’ll be a tough game because Carleton’s always prepped for us,” says head coach Andy Sparks. “It doesn’t matter what kind of season either of us have had, it’ll be a tough game. As far as first round match ups go, it might be our most difficult but so be it. It’s the best thing for us.”
Carleton is 4-6 on the road this season and are weak on offence averaging 58 points per game. But their strength is in their size, rebounding, and defence. Very comfortable playing close games, the Ravens use their size to get second and third chances on the offensive end.
The Gee-Gees, however, feel confident about where their game is heading into the playoffs, especially how well their defence is performing.
“Defensively we were creating a lot of turnovers,” says Sparks. “I think we’re second in the country in what we’re creating in that side. So that’s part of our size. We have to play that game. We have to keep people a little bit confused outside the three point line because we don’t want to get into a post up situation.”
Ottawa’s goal was to be best defensive team in OUA by season’s end. They did just that. uOttawa’s the only team to surrender under 1,000 points in the OUA. That’s an average of 52.3 per game, good enough for third best defence in the country.
Former Raven and current Gee-Gees second leading scorer, Krista van Slingerland, will likely be back in the lineup after an ankle injury sidelined her for the final four games of the season.
Her return will complete basically the same lineup that Ottawa has playing with since the new year. This has allowed their chemistry to develop after the first part of the season saw four of their top seven players go out with injuries. That chemistry has been showing, as the Gee-Gees enter the playoffs as one of the OUA’s hottest teams, winning eight of their last nine contests with their only loss coming to top ranked Windsor. Over that stretch, they’ve averaged a stellar 40 per cent shooting in those wins and allowed an average of 43 points.
Tip-off is 7 p.m. this Wednesday. Tickets are on sale online.