The Gee-Gees are now tied for first in the division. Photo: Parker Townes.
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Gee-Gees look to improve, stay dominant in second half of the season

With only one loss this year, the Gee-Gees women’s basketball team has been a dominant force in the first half of the 2018-19 season. To end the calendar year, the team sits first place in the OUA East with a record of 9-1.

After a weekend on the road, the team returned home with victories against the Guelph Gryphons and Algoma Thunderbirds to extend their winning streak.

“We did have a really good beginning of the season, but we’re never satisfied with those results. We can get better and we do have a lot of stuff to work on to be at our full potential,” fourth-year point guard Brooklyn McAlear-Fanus said.

The Gees started off in Guelph on Friday, Nov. 30.

The away team opened up the scoring when second-year forward Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu went to the line for a free-throw.

Guelph responded with an easy layup off a nice back-door cut from Ivana Vujadinovic.

The rest of the quarter was a back-and-forth battle, ending at 20-17 for the Garnet and Grey.

Halfway through the second, the Gryphons saw their first lead of the game.

It didn’t last long, as McAlear-Fanus and the Gees put pressure on the Gryphons’ defense.

“She has been able to create the tempo for our team that allows us to play the style that really fits us. It’s been her leadership at the point that had let us do that,” Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks said.

McAlear-Fanus created a number of scoring opportunities for both herself and her teammates with some strong drives and impressive no-look passes.

Still, Guelph did not slow down. At half, the Gee-Gees were ahead just 41-40.

They came out sharp for the second half, holding Guelph to only nine points.

After the third quarter, the U of O lead 67-49.

The Gryphons chewed that lead down to 13 points in the first two minutes of the fourth, but couldn’t keep the momentum.

The Gee-Gees dominated the rest of the game quarter, winning 86-69.

All five starters put up double-digit numbers in points, but it was Sarah Besselink who stood out, contributing 29—nine of which were three-pointers.

To finish off the first half of the season, the Gee-Gees took on Algoma on Sunday, Dec. 1.

The U of O was slow in the first quarter, ending the first 10 minutes down 19-13.

The Thunderbirds on the other hand were on fire behind the three-point line, and looked to extend their lead, but the Gee-Gees were able to find a rhythm and gain the momentum.

The Gees’ defence forced turnovers that were quickly converted to points, and the quarter ended in their favour at  42-32.

In the third, the Garnet and Grey pulled away—their speed and fantastic shooting too much for the Thunderbirds to stop.

Algoma wasn’t just struggling on the defensive end. The Gees had shut down their offensive with their own press, holding the Thunderbirds to eight points in the quarter, and the U of O led 69-40 heading into the fourth.

The final 10 minutes of play were no different—the U of O did not take their foot off the gas.

There were a number of Gee-Gees on the stat sheet, but McAlear-Fanus led in points with 20. She was followed by Amélie Hachey and Besselink who both put up 15.

“When we play our tempo we are unstoppable.” McAlear-Fanus said.

The final score over the Thunderbirds would be 91-55.

Even though they’re seeing success, the team is looking to continue to improve their game going into the final half of the season.

“We’ve got some clear areas that have been identified by the girls and the coaching staff that we feel will help to make a difference in us getting better,” Sparks said. “In general, our work ethic is good—so it’s really about fine-tuning our game in the second part of the season, being a little more consistent.”

In the new year, the U of O will look to continue their winning streak. They will be back in action on Jan. 5 in Toronto against the Varsity Blues, then the next day against the Ryerson Rams, with whom they share a 9-1 record.

On Jan. 18 the Gee-Gees will be back home to take on the visiting York Lions. Grab tickets here.