Shaking off a slow start, the Gee-Gees women’s basketball team erased a 17-4 deficit to post a 71-66 win in their home opener against the Western Mustangs on Friday night.
The Gee-Gees shot a mere 20 per cent in the opening frame and surrendered nine turnovers. They started to regain their form in the second quarter, putting together a 12-5 run to get back in it.
“You could definitely tell in the first quarter there was the jitters of the first game of the season,” added third-year forward Maddie Stephen, who recorded a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. “As the game progressed, we calmed down and were the team we’re supposed to be.”
“We were playing a very experienced team. It showed, I thought,” said head coach Andy Sparks.
They’d draw within three at halftime, 31-28, aided by improved shooting and establishing dominance on the glass, out-rebounding the Mustangs 35-17 in the half.
The Gee-Gees sprinted out of the break, regaining the lead for the first time since the opening minutes with inspired play from second-year guard Julia Soriano. She hit a couple shots in a row including a beautiful drive to the basket, putting the layup under the defender and in while drawing the foul. The three-point play tied it at 33-33.
On the next possession, Soriano fed Stephanie MacDonald on the fast break to put the Gee-Gees ahead. Ottawa looked like they’d pull away after stretching out to 10-point lead. But, Western reeled them back in and briefly took back the lead early in the fourth.
The Gee-Gees dug in and held them off, finishing with a steal to run out the clock.
“They hit big shots when it started to look like we were going to put them away. But, lots of positives for a first game,” said Sparks. “Maddie Stephen was excellent, she controlled the boards, Julia Soriano was awesome as well. I think we’re still trying to create our chemistry with all these first year players. To get a win in our first game is important.”
Angela Tilk had a very strong game off the bench for Ottawa with a double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds in just 16 minutes on the floor. Soriano finished with 13 points, going 5-for-8 from the field. Starting point guard Kellie Ring notched seven points and five assists in her return to regular season action following her ACL surgery in the off-season.
Western was led by fifth-year guard Jenny Vaughan, who scored 26 points and added six rebounds in the loss.
“There’s still lots to work on, but we finished strong and that’s what’s most important,” added Stephen.
The no. 10 ranked Gee-Gees are back in action at 6 p.m. Saturday night as they take on no. 1 Windsor Lancers at Montpetit Hall.