It was an intense game. Photo: Alex Rivette/Fulcrum
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U of O snapped three game losing streak with win over Carleton

The stands at Montpetit Hall were filled on Wednesday night as the Carleton Ravens made their way across the Rideau Canal to take on the Gee-Gees for the Bytown Battle.

For the University of Ottawa (7-4) women’s basketball team, this was a grudge match. 

Less than two weeks ago, the Ravens comfortably defeated the Gee-Gees women’s basketball team in the 2022 edition of the Capital Hoops Classic by a score of 63-43. 

That game was the beginning of a three-game losing streak for the University of Ottawa, who dropped a doubleheader to the Rams over the weekend. 

The Gee-Gees took the early lead after a three-pointer by Nadine Katumbayi put the U of O on the board. Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu helped keep the Gees ahead with a pair of layups. 

Ottawa fouls prevented them from pulling ahead by much, and the Ravens had no problems capitalizing on the free ball in the U of O side of the court. 

The opening quarter ended with a three-pointer by Melina De lulio making it 14-11 in favour of the home squad. 

Melina De lulio hitting the three-pointer. Photo: Alex Rivette/Fulcrum

The Ravens took control early in the second quarter with Emma Huff finding the basket first. 

Gee-Gees point guard, Natsuki Szczokin, responded with a three-pointer before Ravens’ Tatyanna Burke tied things up at 17. 

Points were scarce in the second quarter, the teams were stuck at 19-19 for the majority of the first 5 minutes. The Ravens managed to add three points to the board before U of O head coach Rose-Anne Joly called a timeout with 4:07 left to play of the half. 

The Gee-Gees inched ahead with another three-pointer by Szczokin, but Carleton pulled away at the end, converting a steal into two points to end the first half up 30-28. 

With the opening possession, Alana Renon put up a deep two for the Gees to tie things up, moments later, she added a pair of free throws. She secured her sixth point with a buzzer-beater jumper. 

Szczokin contributed her third three-pointer of the game, and it seemed the U of O had all the momentum. 

Unfortunately, that didn’t last too long. Burke and Kali Pocrnic took it upon themselves to make it a tie game yet again. 

Savannah Provo took the ball from a Raven’s player, passing it off to Anne Carr who scored on the drive, even drawing the foul. The three-point play was completed and the Gees were up 40-39. 

With only ten minutes left and 46-35 on the board for the Ravens, it was still anyone’s game. 

The final quarter began with a Gee-Gees steal and a shot by Lefebvre-Okankwu. 

Carleton got the momentum on their side, and Pocrinic’s free throws had the U of O trailing by five.

The Gees didn’t let the game get away from them and soon enough we were back to going bucket for bucket. It was huge defense out of the Gee-Gees that got the bench, crowd, and the home team hyped. 

With only 50 seconds to go, a timeout was called with 54-54 on board. 

A steal by Lefebvre-Okankwu with 24 seconds on the clock meant the Gees just needed one shot to secure the win. While killing time, Szczokin was fouled, sending her to the free-throw line where she made one of two. 

Natsuki Szczokin waiting for the play to resume on Wednesday night. Photo: Alex Rivette/Fulcrum

The Gees were granted possession with 1.7 seconds on the clock when a Ravens player hit the ball out of bounds. The game wasn’t over, a last ditch effort by the Ravens in the form of a strategic foul put Szcozokin back on the free-throw line to save time but it was clear the Gee-Gees played the final seconds perfectly. 

The Gees took the Bytown Battle game 57-54. 

Szczokin was outstanding for the Gee-Gees, putting up 17 points and showing composure throughout the game. 

“It felt really good, I loved it. It felt really good to have my teammates there with me, they helped me a lot,” Szczokin said. 

“This [game] gives us a lot of confidence. We knew we could play to this level and obviously, the last few games didn’t show how we play as a team so I think this game proves to everyone and to us how we play.” 

Joly praised her team, but also expressed appreciation for the fans after the game. 

“We have the crowd, and we have the people cheering for us, and it makes a huge difference,” Joly said.