With a berth to the OUA Critelli Cup finals and a guaranteed spot at nationals on the line, the Gee-Gees women’s basketball team and the McMaster Marauders did battle in Hamilton on Wednesday night.
In the end, a disputed foul call put the Marauders on the line with eight seconds remaining, where they hit their shots to take a one-point lead. A final offensive push fell short on the other end of the floor, and the Gee-Gees’ playoff run wrapped up with a painful 47-46 loss after controlling most of the contest.
Two aggressive defences were on display through the early goings, with McMaster began employing a full-court press from the outset, something that the Gee-Gees had to get used to before settling in to score their first basket of the night.
The Gee-Gees responded to a 7-0 run by the Marauders to start the game by gaining some rhythm on the offensive end, ultimately finishing the first half with a 21-15 lead.
The scrappy game was not a pristine affair for either team, but the low-scoring, defensively focused Gee-Gees seemed to be calm through the frantic final quarter. A series of giveaways and misfortunes sealed the fate of the team, as they had the chance to run the clock out, holding a one-point with 15 seconds remaining.
Ottawa shot at a better clip than their hosts, albeit a grim 27.4 per cent to McMaster’s 26.2. The Gee-Gees also heftily out-rebounded the Marauders finishing with a 53-38 final margin. The killer for the Gee-Gees was certainly in the turnover game, where if it were not for the team’s 23 turnovers, they could’ve easily closed out a win.
The leading scorers for the Gee-Gees were Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu and Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus, who each tallied 14 points on the night. Lefebvre-Okankwu finished with 11 rebounds and three steals, while McAlear-Fanus posted a well-rounded five rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block.
Gee-Gees forward Angela Ribarich was defended aggressively by McMaster all game, however was unable to find her way to the line even once, she finished with only two points on the night, but posted a team-high 13 rebounds.
While the loss does eliminate the Gee-Gees from the OUA Playoffs, it does not fully eliminate their hopes for an at-large bid for nationals, there are still plenty of games to play out across the nation, but the odds are not in favour of the Gee-Gees being the selected team ahead of the tournament.
“You don’t know when you’re going to get back to these situations again,” said Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks, understanding the difficulty of not being able to take advantage of the team’s opportunity.
“We didn’t want to make light of this opportunity, but with the exception of Akpene Kwamie and Isabelle Dion, from the group that was out there, everyone else is returning. We have a very strong recruiting class, so I think the future is very, very bright. The reality is that we now have to work hard in the offseason to get better because there are things we can improve on a lot.”