Photo: Marta Kierkus.
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15-2 record keeps playoff expectations higher than ever after wins on seniors weekend

The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s basketball team was in full force this weekend as they hosted the Waterloo Warriors and the Laurier Golden Hawks in their final home games of the regular season.

Both teams put up an admirable fight, however the Gees were able to vanquish any real threat to their dominance as the team collected their third and fourth straight wins, improving their record to an impressive 15-2.

The wins also mean that the Gees sit atop the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) North division standings, top of the OUA overall standings, and hold the seventh-place ranking in the country.

The weekend was also significant for the team as it marked seniors night, where the Gees celebrated three of their graduating players, forwards Kellie Ring, Catherine Traer, and Krista Van Slingerland.

The first game of the weekend was an encounter against the Waterloo Warriors on Feb. 19.

Despite being tied 21-21 early in the second quarter, the Gees mounted an offensive rally and tightened up on defence to secure a comfortable 75-51 win.

Ring was instrumental for the Gees with her performance, netting the game-high 21 points, nine rebounds, and three assists which helped solidify Ottawa’s 20-point lead in much of the second half.

“I’m taking it one game at a time and finishing on a high,” said Ring about seeing her Gee-Gees career come to a close. “The group of girls every year is amazing and it’s like a second family.”

The following night, the Gees-Gees had a much closer tilt with a lightning quick Laurier Golden Hawks team.

Coming into the match, the Golden Hawks were highly ranked in multiple offensive and defensive categories and the game lived up to its potential as a high-octane encounter.

The Gee-Gees were able to overcome Laurier’s fluid ball movement and perimeter shooting as they secured a 69-64 win at home.

It was a close game as the teams traded leads throughout the first half, but the Gees once again employed lockdown defense to seal the game.

The Gees’ deadly three point shooting was led by point guard Julia Soriano, who is third in three-point percentage in the OUA. Soriano scored 19 points, hitting an impressive five of her seven long-range shots in the game.

Gees top scorer Catherine Traer led the scoring on the night logging 22 points and seven rebounds, including two threes of her own.

Traer hasn’t had an easy road in university. After being one of the top recruits out of high school, she ran into injury issues that cost her parts of every year and the entirety of one.

This season, Traer is the team’s leading scorer and a veteran presence as they look to make a deep playoff push.

“It feels good to win on seniors night,” said Traer. “We knew Laurier would be a tough matchup and without Lemoine in the lineup it was tough to adjust on offence and defence. It feels amazing to get the win and suck it up tonight, I’m happy I’m graduating with two other amazing players.”

Traer’s brother Zach was also celebrating his seniors night with the men’s basketball team and he shared how he felt about Catherine’s performance.

“I’m really proud of my sister,” said Traer, who contributed six points to his team’s win. “She’s had a tough time with injuries, she just got back from another one. I wish her the best and to keep performing.”

After the game Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks delivered a speech recognizing his three graduating players.

It was a particularly memorable night for Krista Van Slingerland, who began the year sidelined with a concussion but recovered admirably to become a true force for the Gees this season. She’s spent the last two years in garnet and grey after transferring from Carleton. She has also cemented her off-the-court legacy as founder of the Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative, a nationwide mental health in athletics awareness program.

After the bittersweet night, the Gee-Gees will be in place to host a quarterfinal playoff game and potentially the OUA Final Four in three weeks. 

Rounding off the regular season for the Gees are a pair of road games against Nipissing and Laurentian on Feb. 26 and 27.

With files from Spencer Murdock