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Gees lose to Ravens, but get the record

Katherine DeClerq | Fulcrum Staff

IT WAS ONLY a matter of time before the Gees’ winning streak came to an end. The University of Ottawa women’s basketball team (15-3) fell victim to the Carleton University Ravens (13-5) after an overtime battle that left fans breathless this weekend. The 71-63 loss was disappointing to the team, but head coach Andy Sparks maintains that the Gees’ performance was up to par.

“It was a new environment for almost the entire team, a new experience,” said Sparks after the game. “That was the fifth-and sixth-ranked teams in the country and it went into overtime, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

The game seemed to be a foul battle, with the first free throw given to the Gees within 15 seconds of play. Fourth-year forward Jenna Gilbert missed the shot, but fifth-year forward Hannah Sunley-Paisley scored off the rebound for the first points on the board.

The Gees made a few blunders, allowing the Carleton Ravens too many opportunities for three-point shots, ending the first quarter 13 points down.

“We got hurt in transition,” said Sparks.  “They scored a lot of threes at the start, and we got ourselves down because we didn’t play good transition defence. We knew what they wanted to do and what they wanted to run.”

The Gees were more composed in the second quarter, attempting to close the gap with Sunley-Paisley scoring for two points beneath the basket and fifth-year forward Elizabeth Lennox making a three-pointer from beyond the arc. Unable to prevent the shots from the Ravens, the half ended 32-23 for Carleton.

“[Carleton] would allow us to get the ball to Sunley-Paisley, but then swarmed her when she got it, and the key is: Is she going to be able to find the easy access? She just wasn’t able to,” said Sparks.

The second half of the game was filled with quick turnovers and more controlled play. First-year forward Ariane Lachance-Scantland took a three-pointer for the Gees’ first lead of the game, but Carleton was quick to regain their advantage after half an hour of quick-paced play.

The fourth quarter seemed like a race to the finish. Rookie guard Kellie Ring scored two points after a struggle with three Ravens defenders, while Sunley-Paisley and fifth-year guard Teddi Firmi-Kuehn brought the final quarter to an end with a 57-57 tie.

The overtime round was filled with fouls and intense defence. The Ravens put up a blockade against the Gees and the aggressive play led to many free throws and a Carleton win.

“In overtime we missed some key looks and fouls, some key situations that we needed,” said Sparks. “All of those things you need in a tight game.”

Although the Garnet and Grey lost to their crosstown rivals, the real star of the night was Lennox, who slammed an Ontario University Athletics career record for rebounds. Lennox went 14 rebounds over the former record held by Cassandra Carpenter from Laurentian University at 986 for all-time rebounding.

“I’ve played on great teams this year and while I was at Western,” said Lennox of the new record.  “You know, it’s not only about one person, it’s a whole team effort that allows someone to achieve something like that. It’s just been fantastic.”

Sparks was just as excited that Lennox was able to make such an accomplishment.

“I can’t say enough about [Lennox],” he said. “She is top notch and that is the record everyone else in this country would want to have, so it’s just awesome.”

The Gees hit the road to face Queen’s University Golden Gaels (10-8) on Feb. 10 at 6 p.m.  and then travel to face the RMC Paladins (0-18) on Feb. 11 for their final matchup at 2 p.m.