The University of Saskatchewan Huskies celebrate their national championship win. Photo: Greg Mason/U of O Sports Services
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Brock gets silver, while UPEI claims bronze at TD Place 

Brock University Badgers vs University of Saskatchewan Huskies: Huskies win first national title since 2016 

To close out the women’s basketball action at the USports national championships, the OUA champions Brock University Badgers took on the tournament favourites and Canada West champions University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the gold medal game.

After a dominant season in the Canada West OUA division, the Huskies continued to power through teams to get to the championship game. For the Badgers, an impressive push at the championships earned them a spot in the finals. 

Melissa Tatti has been the engine on Brock. The point guard has been able to find the basket from everywhere on the court. To open the game, she fired a jumper over the head of a Huskie defender. 

On the other end of the court, Libby Epoch put the U of S on the board with a floater and pair of free throws. 

At the tail end of the first quarter, Saskatchewan was strong in the paint. Kyla Shand reeled in the boards, while Summer Masikewich powered the ball up to score. 

With four minutes remaining, Megan Ahlstrom was the first to hit a three-pointer, making the score 11-7 for the Huskies. 

At the end of the quarter, Saskatchewan led 18-12. 

Pilling became trouble for the Huskies, draining a three before running down the court to lay it in. 

Coming out of a timeout, Sabine Dukate hit the three to make it 26-23 for the Huskies, but Samantha Keltos responded with a three of her own for Brock to tie things up at 26. 

Carly Ahlstrom set the pace in the last minutes of the half, stealing the ball and turning it into a layup before putting up a deep three on Saskatchewan’s next possession. Katriana Philipenko and Dukate added three-pointers to establish a double-digit lead at the end of the first half. 

With the score at 45-33 on the board, there were still 20 minutes left to be played. 

The Badgers were not ready to give up, but Saskatchewan continued to fire down on them. Masikewich was huge in the third quarter, fighting through defenders to make layups, even getting her own rebound and turning it into two points. 

At the end of the third quarter, the Huskies led 63-47. 

Saskatchewan slowed things down for the fourth, running their plays and taking their time to choose their shots. Dukate dropped her seventh three-pointer of the game for the Huskies to start the final quarter, adding another one only a minute later. 

With six minutes on the clock and 74-49 in favour of Saskatchewan on the scoreboard, Brock called a timeout. 

Brock’s late efforts would not go unnoticed. A three-on-one situation allowed Tatti to set Keltos up for a wide-open three-pointer. Kristin Gallant pulled up at the top of the key for a quick two points. With two minutes left on the clock, Tatti took the ball down the court for an easy three. 

Still, Saskatchewan was clearly the dominant team, claiming the gold medal with a score of 82-64. 

Dukate put up a game-high of 24 points, making eight of 12 three-pointers for Saskatchewan

“My job on the team is to shoot threes, so I took my shot when they gave it to me,”  said Dukate. 

Masikewich added 20 points for the Huskies, contributing most down low. 

“I knew coming into nationals that I had to let the game come to me,” explained Masikewich. “My teammates got me the ball and it was amazing.”

Saskatchewan head coach Lisa Thomaidis spoke about her team’s success in a post-game press conference. 

“We played our best basketball at the right time,” Thomaidis said. “We really peaked at this tournament.” 

Bronze final: Université de Laval Rouge et Or vs University of Prince Edward Island Panthers

The Laval Rouge et Or dropped the possibility of taking home bronze against the UPEI Panthers 57-50 after leading 41-23 in the second quarter. UPEI put up 24 points in the fourth quarter to run away with the win. 

Top performers for UPEI included Jenna Mae Elsworth, who put up 24 points in the win and had nine rebounds on the afternoon, Reese Baxendale, who put up 17 points on the board, and Carolina Del Santo who was the queen of the boards for the Panthers on the night with 12. 

For Laval, Khaleann Caron-Goudr was strong on the boards picking up 18 rebounds she also had five blocks. Teammate Kim Letang also had a good afternoon, dropping 16 points. 

UPEI was able to pull out to an early lead winning the first quarter 16-14 but could not sustain their offensive pressure and were overwhelmed by  Laval’s offence in the second and third quarters, losing them 16-8 and 13-11 respectively. At one point, things looked very bleak for the Panthers, who were down by 18 points. 

The islanders pulled themselves together and had a monster fourth quarter, dropping 24 points on the Rouge et Or and taking the lead with a 14-point drive and then the game 57-50.

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