Contributed by: Tyler Bennett / College Court Report Canada (@CCR_Canada)
The 2019 playoff picture is starting to take shape.
We’ve known for some time that the top teams in each division were safe and heading to the postseason, but the seedings were unclear. While the majority of them are still up in the air with only a couple of weeks left in the regular season, one can certainly speculate as to who could finish where. There are plenty of different scenarios that could still cause a shake-up in how the league will finish, but it’s all hypothetical at this point.
Over the weekend, the Queen’s Gaels locked up a home playoff game for their fans in Kingston, Ont. with a big home win. That means the top four teams in the East Division are set, but the seedings could very well change between now and the next chapter in the quest for the Critelli Cup. Key games down the stretch between playoff contenders will keep things interesting, and we’re here for all of the excitement that the home stretch has to offer.
Here’s what you may have missed from the past week across the OUA in the latest edition of Ninety-Four Feet.
Windsor goes perfect on the road to sweep weekend
With each passing season, it should come as no surprise when you see the Windsor Lancers in contention for – or winning, for that matter – the West Division title, and this year is no different.
Heading into the final games of the regular season, the Lancers are playing some of their best basketball of the season. They have a balanced roster, albeit one that took a bit of time to get going this year, but the Lancers have found their stride and are sprinting towards the postseason full steam ahead. With another perfect weekend in the books, the Lancers have now won seven straight games to sit third in the division and find themselves just four points behind the Lakehead Thunderwolves for second.
This past week saw Windsor ride their five-game winning streak on the road for games against the Brock Badgers and Laurier Golden Hawks. When all was said and done, the Lancers picked up a close win on Friday before a blowout on Saturday to close things on a high note.
On Friday night, the Lancers ventured to St. Catharines for a battle between two teams looking to improve their standing ahead of the postseason. The Lancers came into the game in third spot in the West Division, while the Badgers were one spot behind in fourth. Their contest needed an extra five minutes to decide a winner, but the Lancers came away with the 71-66 road win in the end.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Lancers found themselves down by 10 points with those final 10 minutes looming. Windsor opened the frame with a 14-0 run; however, to take a four-point lead of their own, keeping the Badgers off the scoreboard for close to five minutes in the process. They outscored Brock by a 19-9 margin in the final quarter to force overtime, and they would come away with the five-point win when all was said and done.
Eve Uwayesu (Ottawa, Ont.) flirted with a triple-double in the win, finishing with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists to lead the way for Windsor. Not to be outdone, Olivia Osamusali (Brampton, Ont.) finished with a double-double of her own while shining on defence, posting 14 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks.
Veteran guard Carly Steer (Windsor, Ont.) rounded out the contingent of players in double-figures for the Lancers, finishing the night with 17 points.
There was little time to rest for Windsor, as they were on the road again the next day for an afternoon contest against the Golden Hawks. The visitors were in control of the contest from the outset, and they rolled to their seventh straight win in the process with an 85-59 win over host Laurier.
Once again, it was a balanced attack on both ends that helped carry the Lancers. Steer led all scorers on the night with 19 points to go along with five assists, while Osamusali had 17 points and dished out six dimes. Samantha Gucciardi (Vaughan, Ont.) chipped in with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor.
On both ends, Uwayesu put together a strong showing but narrowly missed another double-double. She finished with nine points, 14 rebounds, and five assists.
With the playoffs just around the corner, the Lancers have become one of the hottest teams in the OUA, going 10-1 since November 30 to build a ton of momentum ahead of basketball’s #BannerSeason.
Marianne Alarie, Queen’s clinch home playoff game
It’s been quite an eventful two weeks for the Queen’s Gaels and for veteran guard Marianne Alarie (Sudbury, Ont.).
Playing in the East Division, the Gaels often get overlooked with the likes of Ryerson, Ottawa, and defending national champions Carleton all inhabiting the same division. But that could work well for the Gaels as the playoffs roll around, giving them an extra bit of motivation and the element of surprise as they haven’t garnered the level of attention that they should.
The past two weekends have been exciting ones for the Kingston squad and their women’s basketball program, both for individual reasons as well as a team achievement that are testaments to their overall success this season.
For starters, Alarie etched her name in the record books for the Gaels by joining the 1,000-point club in the team’s win over the Laurentian Voyageurs back on January 26. In the 72-46 victory, Alarie recorded 13 points to give her 1,009 for her career at the time. The fifth-year guard joined recent Gaels greats like Liz Boag (1,055), Jenny Wright (1,167), and Brittany Moore (1,652) in the exclusive club.
It’s a true testament to how effective Alarie has been on offence over her career at Queen’s. Often overlooked alongside the high-caliber opponents across the conference, Alarie’s talents and accomplishments are worth talking about as she has proven to be one of the better players to ever don a Queen’s jersey on the hardwood.
While Alarie’s feat took the headlines in their win over the Voyageurs, the team turned their attention to the York Lions this past weekend in a game that had major playoff implications for the Gaels. A win on their home floor would secure a home playoff game inside the ARC, and as we all know, home court advantage goes a long way in the postseason.
When the dust settled and the final buzzer sounded on Friday night, the Gaels did what they set out to do and secure a home playoff game for themselves. Queen’s improved their record to 11-7 on the year with the 80-64 victory and did so thanks in large part to a balanced offensive attack that saw four different players score in double-figures.
Alarie led the way in the win, scoring a game-high 22 points to push her career total to 1,031. Sophie de Goede (Victoria, B.C.) posted a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Veronika Lavergne (Ottawa, Ont.) added 13 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double of her own. Off the bench, first-year guard Laura Donovan (London, Ont.) added 10 points in 18 minutes of court time.
With the win, the Gaels secured at least the four-seed in the division, but there’s room for them to continue their climb before the regular season runs out. Queen’s will welcome both Ottawa and Carleton to town over the weekend of February 8-9, and both games will give the hosts an opportunity to make a statement against nationally-ranked opponents.
Up and down their roster, the Gaels have size – listing 14 players on their roster listed at 5’8’’ or taller – and talent that could carry them to a postseason win or two when the time comes and if they can put together a balanced scoring effort like they did against the Lions come playoff time, the Gaels will be a tough out.
Special shout-out to the Ottawa Gee-Gees for securing their first Capital Hoops Classic win over the Carleton Ravens since 2015. Their 61-52 victory handed the Ravens their fourth loss of the season, helping the Gee-Gees maintain top spot in the East Division and extend their winning streak to seven games in the process.