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The Gee-Gees came back from a tough first half to defeat York on Friday night. Photo: Bridget Coady/Fulcrum

McAlear-Fanus, Renon and De lulio come up big in the fourth quarter to give Gees the win  

The Gee-Gees women’s basketball team opened up a four-game homestand against the York University Lions on Friday night. Plagued by injuries to key veterans Maia Timmons, Anne Carr, and Katherine Follis, the Gee-Gees looked to rely on their rookies and other younger players to carry the load in the showdown against the Lions.

“We’re missing … three very key players for us on the court that also bring a lot of leadership,” said head coach Andy Sparks about his injured players. “We’re trying to work on the floor with players who haven’t played together that much so the chemistry still being built.”

Wearing their home Greys, the Gee-Gees got off to a rough start against the Lions, who took the lead early. However, York struggled to hit the basket in the first despite beating Ottawa’s defence at every turn. York got out to an early 6-2 lead that lasted for more than half the quarter as both teams missed great opportunities to sink baskets.

Eventually, both teams were able to add some points as they sank baskets on free throws, with both teams’ defences shotty early in the game. After one quarter, the Lions led 14-11 as the Gees struggled to get anything going on the offensive side of the court, struggling in and out of the key.

While most of her teammates struggled to hit the basket or getting their passes to reach their destination, Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus put the Gee-Gees on her back in the second quarter. The Ottawa native had only four points in the second quarter but was able to get the York defence to move and leave her teammates open for passes.

“Brooklynn (McAlear-Fanus) was key for us, and you know, they managed to press her, and she was finding people and giving other players opportunities,” said Sparks after the game. 

Ottawa’s struggles on defence were less evident in the second quarter but York was able to keep a one-point lead going into the half. At halftime, York headed to the locker room with a 26-25 lead in a low-scoring affair.

Ottawa’s point leaders after the first half were McAlear-Fanus with eight and Alana Renon with four points coming off the bench. For the Lions, Megan MacLeod and Lauren Golding led the way with 11 and eight points respectively, while only three other players hit the basket for York in the first half.    

The Gee-Gees came back from the break looking like a different team with newfound confidence. Bridgitte Lefebvre-Okankwu opened the half with a nice jump shot to give Ottawa the lead, and the Gees would never look back. Lefebvre-Okankwu scored eight points in the quarter and looked like a different player from the first half. 

Golding and MacLeod continued their dominating performances for the team in red and white but were outgunned by a more balanced Gee-Gees offence who got contributions up and down the roster from players such as Melina De Iulio, Tyra Blizzard, and Angela Ribarich, who dominated in the middle of the key with her 6-5 frame. 

The fourth quarter was all Gee-Gees, as the team away from the York Lions. De Iuio arguably had the play of the game when she managed to sink a three-point shot while falling out of play after being shoved by a York player. 

“Melina (De Iulio) did what we needed her to do coming off the bench today, she did a very good job along with Angela Ribarich,” said Sparks. “That shot was sort of the finishing touch on the game, we got the ball back after which made it made a big difference”

In the end, the Gee-Gees were able to grab an eight-point lead and took the game 57-49. After the game, McAlear-Fnaus had this to say about her team’s performance 

“It definitely wasn’t our best performance overall, I think we tried to lock down defensively and go to what works on offence, we stuck to one play and tried to push it in and that’s what kind of gets us a rhythm on offence,” said McAlear-Fanus. “Defensively, we recognized who we were matched up with so we took away shots for shooters and took away slashes for slashers.”

The Gee-Gees will be back in action on Saturday night when they host the Lakehead Thunderwolves at 6 p.m. at Montpetit Hall Gym. Ottawa will close out their homestand next weekend with a game against the Nipissing Lakers on Friday and the Laurentian Voyageurs on Nov. 30 both games will tipoff at 6 p.m. 

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