McAlear-Fanus and Ribarich late-game heroics put Gee-Gees past Ravens at Capital Hoops classic
The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees matched up against the Carleton Ravens at the TD Place arena for the highly anticipated Capital Hoops Classic on Friday night. The game was a back-and-forth battle, with the Gee-Gees coming out on top for the second year in a row.
In their early December meeting, the Gee-Gees came away with a 66-49 win. Ottawa’s 17-2 record had them at the top of the OUA East with the 13-6 Ravens right behind them. Meanwhile, Ottawa was looking to add to their 13 game win streak. With both teams nationally ranked, there was no doubt the game would be one for the books.
Right from the opening tip-off, the Ravens came out flying. Before the Gee-Gees could respond, Carleton had 10 points on the board.
Angela Ribarich, a senior on the Ottawa squad, put up back-to-back buckets to get the ball rolling for the garnet and grey.
The Gee-Gees weren’t short of shots, but the ball simply wouldn’t fall in the basket.
“It was ugly,” Ottawa’s star point guard Brooklyn McAlear-Fanus said about the first quarter. “We showed a lot of resilience.”
In the final minutes of the opening quarter, quick ball movement around the perimeter opened up a shot for freshman guard Savannah Provo to put three on the board.
After the first 10 minutes of play, Carleton led 18-12.
Ottawa started the second quarter with a possession, and Tyra Blizzard was the first to find the basket, putting up three for Ottawa.
Blizzard continued to make a mark on the score, putting up another three-pointer just minutes later. The Gees were still trailing 23-18.
Carleton’s Madison Reid was trouble for Ottawa, answering Blizzard’s deep basket with one of her own.
Ottawa head coach Andy Sparks credited Reid’s perimeter shooting after the game.
“Reid definitely went off on us on the perimeter of the floor and we really couldn’t guard it,” he said.
The Gees continued finding their shots from the outside, Natsuki Szczokin added another three-pointer to the score. On the next possession, Szczokin found Katherine Follis in the paint to make the deficit a single point at 26-25.
“Natsuki Szczokin as a first-year guard was huge for us,” said Sparks. “Both Savannah Provo and Natsuki Szczokin were not nervous in the heat of the moment and they stepped up in that game.”
Ottawa took their first lead of the game after a drive by point guard McAlear-Fanus turned into a slick layup by Ribarich half-way through the quarter.
Before the Gees could put more points on the board, Tatyanna Burke put up a jumper to tie the game at 28.
Reid found the net from behind the three-point line to put the Ravens back in front.
The remainder of the quarter was a back-and-forth battle for every single point. Reid and Blizzard exchanged threes to close out the half.
While the Gees outscored the Ravens in the quarter, they were still playing from behind with the score at 37-40.
To open up the second half, Reid hit another three-pointer, adding to the Ravens lead.
Ribarich kept the Gees close, but their defense simply couldn’t slow down the Ravens.
McAlear-Fanus was fouled on a completed jump shot, successfully finishing a three-point play with a free-throw. The Ravens were still leading 48-46.
Just as Ottawa closed the gap, Kali Pocmic put up a three-pointer for Carleton to make it 50-47.
In the final seconds of the third, McAlear-Fanus set up the offense, finding Brigitte Lefebvre-Okanku for a huge three-pointer, and then a layup to end the quarter down 62-59.
The fourth quarter welcomed another level of intensity both on the court and in the stands. Throughout the arena, cheers from both Ottawa and Carleton students motivated the athletes.
“You could really feel the energy and the Gee-Gees support,” said Spark.
“As soon as we got those stops and got those steals and got it into the big (key), we were able to feed off the energy,” McAlear-Fanus said.
Clawing their way back from the eight-point deficit the Ravens created, the Gee-Gees took off midway through the final quarter.
Blizzard and Ribarich helped close the gap, but it was a three-pointer in transition by Szczokin that really put the game in the Gee-Gees hands.
“We talked about it on the bench, we decided it was time to put a stop to all these mistakes and just settle down and get the job done,” Ribarich said. “And that’s what we did.”
Next, another quick play in the transition from Blizzard, ahead to Szczokin and into the hands of McAlear-Fanus, put Ottawa ahead 72-70.
Dorcas Buisa put up a three-point jumper to put the Ravens back up by one, but the Gee-Gees were determined to keep the Ravens down.
With less than a minute on the board, Ribarich laid the ball into the basket to get the Gees back in the lead by one. Free-throws by McAlear-Fanus extended the lead further.
With 76-73 on the board, the Ravens weren’t ready to quit. Senior Alyssa Cerino found the basket for the Ravens.
In the final seconds, Szczokin carried the ball up the court, pressured heavily by the Carleton defence. Keeping control of the ball, Szczokin drew the foul, making one of her free-throws.
The scoreboard was 77-75 as the final buzzer went off, marking a huge win for the Gee-Gees.
Ribarich put up a game-high of 24 points, Blizzard added 14, while McAlear-Fanus put up 12 for the Gee-Gees. On the other end, Reid contributed 21, and Cerino 15 for the Ravens.
Ottawa will be back on the court one week from now when they take on the Brock University Badgers at Montpetit Hall at 6 p.m. The Gees will close out their season against the McMaster Marauders on Feb 15 at 6.p.m once again at Montpetit Hall.