Women’s Basketball (11-2 OUA)
Hosted Carleton (8-5 OUA) on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. at the Scotiabank Place for the MNBA Capital Hoops Classic. (Rogers TV, Team 1200, SSN Canada)
uOttawa –Jenna Gilbert 19 points, 3 rebounds; Hannah Sunley-Paisley 15 points, 12 rebounds; Bess Lennox 7 points, 11 rebounds
Carleton – Ashleigh Cleary 21 points, 2 rebounds; Krista Van Slingerland 10 points, 5 rebounds; Jessica Resch 10 points, 4 rebounds
The stage was set for one of the biggest games in CIS women’s basketball as the seventh nationally ranked Gee-Gees hosted the sixth place Carleton Ravens at the fifth annual Capital Hoops Classic at Scotiabank Place. It would come down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter, and a Gee-Gees’ offensive push and defensive shut down of the Ravens for the Garnet and Grey to capture their first Capital Hoops title with a 59-55 victory.
“It’s bittersweet,” said head coach Andy Sparks, “We didn’t play our best, and Carleton would probably say the same thing. It’s a case of both teams not allowing the other team to look good, we know what they do and they know what we do and we just kind of took each other out in a defensive battle.”
The game opened at a slow pace with neither team seeming to find their stride. The Gee-Gees upped the tempo in the second frame, being more aggressive on the court as well as demonstrating better ball movement through their well-rounded midrange attack and press defence. Back to back threes from fourth-year forward Jenna Gilbert (Ottawa, Ont.) and first-year Ariane Lachance-Scantland (Gatineau, Qué.) early in the second seemed to get the Gee-Gees offence moving.
Neither team was able to get a sustained offence started until Carleton went on an eight point run to end the second, built almost completely from an inside the paint assault. They were leading the Gee-Gees by three at half. The Gee-Gees were in definite need of the half-time adjustments, as a visibly frustrated Sparks headed to the change room to talk things over with team.
“We came out a little flat in the beginning, and we were sort of letting them do what they wanted in offence,” said fifth-year guard Teddi Firmi (Kitchener, Ont.), “When we came in after half, we re-focused ourselves. We just had to go out there and play hard and not be a victim in the game. Carleton’s a really good team; they’re a very smart team defensively. We knew that coming in it was going to be tough to score some baskets on offense.”
After limited playing time in the first half, fifth-year centre Hannah Sunley-Paisley (Toronto, Ont.) proved to be the scoring threat that’s been so deadly to the Gee-Gees opponents so far this season. She stacked up the Gee-Gees’ first seven points of the second half, lighting up the Gee-Gees Scotiabank fan base along the way. A buzzer beater three pointer by Carleton would secure them the lead at the end of the quarter once again.
And as Sunley-Paisley took over in the third, so Gilbert took over in the fourth as she opened up the Gee-Gees scoring with a pair of free throws, a lay-up from the paint and a three-pointer from behind the arc. The Ravens stifled the Gee-Gees offence heading into the final minutes, scoring seven unanswered points to take a four point lead with two minutes remaining.
“Trying to keep your composure,” emphasized Firmi on the Gee-Gees in the final minutes, “The game’s not over until the final buzzer goes, and I think that we just knew we had to keep battling and keep working hard. And hopefully things will shift our way and eventually it did.”
A free throw from Sunley-Paisley, followed by a rebound basket and free throw for the three point play by Gilbert tied up the game with just over a minute remaining and proved to be the turning point for the Garnet and Grey. The Gee-Gees followed it up with several crucial stops on defence and another basket by Gilbert. A pair of free throws by Sunley-Paisley would secure the win.
Gilbert led the Gee-Gees with 19 points, while Sunley-Paisley stacked up a double-double with her 13 points, 12 rebounds. Fifth-year forward Bess Lennox (Ottawa, Ont.) would also chip in with 7 points and 11 rebounds.
“It’s nice to do that on my last year, to finally get a win here,” said Sunley-Paisley, excited at the team’s present 11 game win streak, “I love it; it’s awesome. We’re definitely getting together and I hope we can keep it going.”
“It was a nice push down the finish to get the win,” concluded Sparks, “But win or lose, it wasn’t going to affect what direction we were going. But it’s much better to win than lose.”
The Gee-Gees will have a relatively short turnover time as they must now shift their focus to hosting RMC and Queen’s this Friday and Saturday, both games at 6:00 p.m. at Montpetit Hall. (SSN Canada)