Gees recover from slow start to embarrass Thunderbirds in home opener

The University of Ottawa women’s basketball team took on the Algoma Thunderbirds in their season opener at Montpetit on Nov. 3.

Brooklynn McAlear started the game hot, forcing her way into the key with four points in the first three minutes. At the five-minute mark, the game was all tied up at 10 a side, Algoma being powered by two three-pointers early. Gees coach Andy Sparks talked about their poor start, saying, “we started the game poorly, 10 points for them in the first four minutes of the game.”

A quick steal on the defensive end by Maia Timmons resulted in a breakaway layup, giving the Garnet and Grey a 16-10 lead with 3:08 to play in the opening frame. At the end of the first quarter the Gee-Gees were up 23-10 powered by six points apiece for McAlear and Angela Ribarich.

The three-pointer was again big for Algoma, allowing them to reduce the Gees’ lead to eight with seven to play. A charge taken on one end by Anne Carr resulted in two points for her at the other off two perfect free-throws, which continued to build on the Gee-Gees lead, 28-19 with four minutes to play.

The Gees showcased a full press from the beginning of the game and it continued to pay dividends giving the Gees opportunities from the line after forcing turnovers. Angela Ribarich led the Gees with 10 points in the first half, scoring with ease in the paint and from the line. To keep their lead, the Gee-Gees 33 per cent from the field in the first half, but 75 per cent from the line to give them a 36-20 lead at recess.

In the third quarter, Timmons scored the first five points for the Gee-Gees off a free-throw, layup, and an offensive rebound. A big steal thanks to the full court press resulted in a steal and layup by McAlear, giving the Gees a 49-22 lead. McAlear did a good job distributing, finding Hachey in the corner and Ribarich in the paint, helping the Gees to a 51-30 lead with 2:30 to play.

Aliisa Heiskanen scored an easy layup from two-feet from the net off a great feed from Maia Timmons. The Gee-Gees took a 58-33 lead heading into the final quarter.

The Gees continued to lead just before the midway mark of the fourth quarter 65-40. The team’s defense was especially good in the fourth, denying the ball and forcing a 24-second violation.

The Gees forced 24 turnovers in the game and forced the Thunderbirds to shoot 27 per cent from the field, but coach Andy Sparks is looking for more. “There were times that we were pretty good defensively, and there were a lot of times that we were outside of what we are supposed to be doing to be successful.”  

Despite taking a big victory in the home opener, Sparks is looking for more consistent play from his team going forward. “The reality is that our compete level is not high enough,” said Sparks. “We’re way too up and down to compete with the best teams in the country.”

The Gee-Gees next home game will take place on Nov. 17 against the University of Western Ontario at Montpetit Hall at 10 a.m.