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Jen Stoqua shines in record-breaking performances leading into playoffs

Photo: Marta Keirkus

The women’s basketball team had extra motivation to play hard at the Shoot for the Cure fundraiser game this year. Each season, the Gee-Gees take part in hosting a staple in Canadian University Sport (CIS), the Shoot for the Cure fundraiser for breast cancer awareness and research.

The games by design are always played between the Gee-Gees and the Laurentian University Voyageurs, as a special bond exists between the two basketball programs. Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks says it’s always an emotional night when the schools meet as they commemorate the life of Carolyn Sturgess.

The native of Ottawa became a star at Laurentian while her sister was a star at the University of Ottawa, and her brother went on to become the current head coach of the Voyageurs. Sturgess lost her fight with breast cancer in 2009, but the teams keep her memory alive with the game every season. Emotions were running higher this year as Sparks shared the story of his sister-in-law’s fight with breast cancer in a moving address to the crowd post-game.

“It’s one of the times in the year that you think back every year about someone who had an impact on you. That has lost their life, or went through stuff. It kind of puts things into perspective,” said Sparks. He thought highly of Carolyn, as a basektball player and as a person. “Her mom and sister come every year and it means a lot to the basketball community,” added Sparks.

The Gee-Gees made efficient use of the pink ball as they sprung to an 86-43 victory over the Voyageurs. The Gees turned to senior Jen Stoqua after her record-breaking performance downing 10 three-pointers in the previous night’s 91-33 victory over Nipissing. Holding a freshly-inked record for the most threes in a single game for the Gee-Gees, Stoqua went back to work shooting another nine for the night to bring her weekend total to 19.

Laurentian played the Gee-Gees close in the early goings, but as the garnet and grey defence clamped down, the Voyageurs surrendered multiple runs to lock in the Gee-Gees’ win.

“I think we’re peaking where we wanted to peak,” said Stoqua. “We wanted to go out with a bang and we certainly did that. Having it be my senior weekend you want to come out and leave something on the floor that people will remember and luckily it worked out for that.”

As for the run into the playoffs, the team is excited to close out the regular season on top and they look forward to a run in the playoffs.

“We’re heading in the right direction. This weekend was the start of that and we’ll look to continue in our first playoff game,” said Stoqua.

With the win, the Gee-Gees clinched the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) North division title. The team hosts a playoff game on Feb. 25. in hopes of moving on to Windsor for the OUA Final Four where they could earn a berth in the CIS Final Eight in Quebec City.