Photo: Parker Townes.
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Gees overpower smaller Varsity Blues in the paint to win first playoff matchup

The University Ottawa Women’s Basketball team, ranked third in the OUA East, started their playoff run against the fifth-ranked University of Toronto Varsity Blues on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

The Gees came out firing on all cylinders on both ends of the court. They jumped out to a 20-6 lead after the first quarter, that was capped off by a three-point play by Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu who was fouled on her way to the net. Jennifer Crowe, Angel Ribarich, and Amélie Hachey all scored four points in the first 10 minutes of play to generate a balanced attack. The Garnet and Grey were aggressive on the defensive side of the ball as they forced six turnovers.

The Varsity Blues caught fire with two three-pointers, but the Gees generated three buckets of their own to equal the score early on in the second quarter, including a breakaway layup by Maia Timmons as their defence was caught napping. Hachey hit a three-pointer to give the Gees a 35-15 lead with 6:10 left in the half. Two free-throws from Lefebvre-Okankwu with 3:24 left in the half gave the Gees a 39-20 lead after two free-throws. At the end of the half, the Gees had an outstanding 45-22 lead.

Lefebvre-Okankwu had 11 points and eight rebounds to lead to Gees in points and rebounds, and Crowe chipped in with eight points and four rebounds. The Garnet and Grey forced the Varsity Blues to 20 per cent shooting from the field and from behind the arc.

The Gees went right to Ribarich in their first possession as she got good post position and finished in close. Right after, the Garnet and Grey went to Lefebvre-Okankwu after a great pass by Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus, while the Gees kept using their height to their advantage. Crowe hit a three-pointer with 3:30 left after the Gees had a rare dry spell for points. The quarter finished with the Gees leading 59-35, Toronto’s play improved, but the Gees didn’t give up an inch, taking the quarter 14-13.

Timmons got the Gees started with a shot from deep just over a minute and a half into the final quarter. McAlear-Fanus drove right past her defender with seven minutes left to notch her seventh point of the game to go along with nine rebounds. With the Gees holding an outstanding lead, their bench had a role to play down the stretch. The team would ultimately play well, and the Gees took the game 73-50.

The Gee-Gees dominated in basically every facet of the game, from shooting percentage to rebounding where the Gees led 53-41 and scored 14 second chance points. Lefebvre-Okankwu led the Gees from start to finish with a 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds for a big double-double for the Garnet and Grey.