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Gee-Gees win thriller at Queen’s

Saturday February 14, 2015
women's basketball.
Richard Whittaker

The Gee-Gees women’s basketball team recorded its fourth straight win on Saturday night and it came in a crucial showdown with the Queen’s Gaels in Kingston. Ottawa improved its record to 11-5 on the season with a 60-51 win over the Gaels (10-6), which should keep the garnet and grey on the hosting side of the bracket when the playoffs open on February 25.

The teams produced a thrilling second half of basketball after the opening twenty minutes saw a combined 26 per cent field goal percentage. The lead exchanged hands seven times in the third quarter before Ottawa established a five point lead heading into the final frame.

Stephanie MacDonald led all scorers with 21 points on the night, but Ottawa’s bench players contributed throughout the evening with timely plays at both ends of the floor. Second-year guard Kellie Forand hit a pair of second half threes which were pivotal momentum boosters – she finished with a career high 10 points.

“With our depth the way it is right now, everyone knows they are going to be involved. That helps everyone’s confidence,” said Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks. “Our bench executed the game plan very well tonight and we’ll be a tough out if we continue to defend like that.”

Ottawa led 7-2 midway through the first quarter, showing excellent defensive intensity off the opening tip for the second straight night. The first quarter was a low scoring affair after the Gees’ quick start, with the score standing at 9-5 for the visitors after the first ten minutes.

Back-to-back transition baskets from veteran Gaels guard Liz Boag, including an and-one put Queen’s ahead for the first time 10-9. Queen’s would pull ahead by as much as 21-13, buoyed by five free throws on undisciplined fouls by the Gee-Gees. Forand scored back-to-back buckets to help Ottawa finish the quarter on a positive note and head into the locker room down 22-19.

Ottawa opened with four straight points in the second half but Boag countered with a trey to keep Queen’s ahead. Jen Stoqua stroked one from the sidelines to respond and things were shaping up for an exciting second half. Good team offence and ball movement for Ottawa allowed a better rhythm, and the visitors established a 34-31 lead after a pretty up and under bucket by Akpene Kwamie. The first big three by Forand made it 39-34.

A deep three by Liz Boag brought Queen’s to 45-38 but a Stephanie MacDonald steal at the top led to a breakaway layup which put Ottawa ahead by 11 at 49-38. Forand then hit another big three to answer a Queen’s trey, keeping Ottawa ahead 54-41.

Ottawa continued to play excellent defence and withstood the late charge by Queen’s. The Gaels got the deficit down to nine but could not rein in the Gee-Gees.

“It’s been a tough go of late but Kellie Ring and Stephanie were huge for us tonight – absolute difference-makers in the second half,” added Sparks. “Their leadership was showing and they found the answers they needed to on the floor.”

Ottawa will complete its regular season schedule with a pair of home games next weekend, hosting Nipissing on Friday night and Laurentian on Saturday.Description: