Gees set to face their toughest challenges yet, including Carleton Ravens
After an extended break due to COVID-19 restrictions affecting the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) schedule, the University of Ottawa basketball teams are finally lacing up their shoes and getting back on the court to continue the 2021-22 season.
Both the men and women’s teams finished the first half of the season with flawless 6-0 records, defeating York University, Ontario Tech, and the University of Toronto.
Unfortunately, each team had seven of their games postponed throughout the month of January, including the Bytown Battle, where they would have met with the Carleton Ravens for the first time this season. These games have yet to be rescheduled.
Heading back into competition, each U of O basketball team is nationally ranked. The women are ranked seventh, while the men hold third spot in U Sports.
50 years of remarkable women’s basketball
Celebrating their 50th year anniversary as a program, the lady Gee-Gees started things off strong with a 76-52 win over the York Lions.
The next day, the game was much closer, with the Gees squeezing out the 48-44 win. From then on, the team has been on a tear, dominating the competition with scores like 100-59 over Ontario Tech or 81-51 over Toronto.
After saying goodbye to star players Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus and Angela Ribarich last season, the Gee-Gees needed someone to step up in the point guard position while Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu took over in the paint.
Natsuki Szczokin has seamlessly become a key player for the Garnet and Gray, offering consistency in the point guard position. The second-year guard has logged 172 minutes in six games played, and had a stellar 24 point game against Ontario Tech.
No surprise: Lefebvre-Okankwu continues to be a major piece on both ends of the court for the Gee-Gees. In her fourth season as a Gee, she is currently averaging 8.2 rebounds per game, and 20 points per game, contributing 120 points already this year.
Veterans Anne Carr, Alana Renon, as well as a fresh face to the Gees roster, Nadine Katumbayi, have also added a decent chunk of points each game.
Defense wins championships
On the men’s side, the Gees have been a tough defensive team, leading the league in steals and forced turnovers.
The team has managed to keep their opponents below 80 points during the regular season, including a dominant 92-51 performance over York and a 100-59 showing against Ontario Tech.
Averaging 84.8 points per game, the Gee-Gees are seeing scoring contributions throughout the roster. Guillaume Pépin leads the team in average points per game with 17.8, followed by Quincy Louis-Jeune with 13, and Maxime Boursiquot with 12.3.
Pépin remains a star on the U of O squad, beginning the season with a 21 point game against York and 8 rebounds in the team’s first matchup against Toronto.
The Gee-Gees have had other veterans to rely on, including Borys Minger, Gage Sabean and Marlon Kordrostami. What is most exciting about this Gees roster however, is the new talent.
Boursiquot has brought experience from Northeastern, a Division 1 NCAA school. The Ottawa native returned to the city after three great seasons in the states. Josh Inkumsah is another pickup from the NCAA, coming from Purdue Fort Wayne, in his regular season debut with the Gee-Gees, he put up 15 points and 6 rebounds.
First year Louis-Jeune has already proven himself as a university basketball player, having two 16 point games in his first OUA season.
On Feb. 11 and 12, the Gee-Gees will match up against the Queen’s University Golden Gaels for their first games of the new year.
This will be the toughest matchup for the men’s team so far, as the Gaels are also sitting undefeated but with only five games played. For the women, Queen’s has gone 3-2, both losses at the hands of the Ryerson Rams.
After that, the teams will meet up against their rivals, the Carleton Ravens for the Capital Hoops Classic on Feb. 18.
Like the Gee-Gees, the men’s Ravens team have had a successful 6-0 first half of the season. Historically, the Ravens have had an incredible U Sports program, proving time and time again that they’re the best.
The Gee-Gees will have to be sharp in order to defeat the reigning champions and win the Capital Hoops Classic for the second year in a row.
The women on the Carleton side have shown signs of improvement since their last meeting with the Gee-Gees. The team sits at 5-1, dropping a game to York 71-69. The next day, the Ravens bounced back and got their revenge on the Lions 100-68.
The game is sure to be an interesting matchup, with the Gee-Gees looking to continue on their winning streak.