Contributed by: Tyler Bennett / College Court Report Canada (@CCR_Canada)
On and off the court, it was a ground-breaking week for women across the OUA.
On the court, fans saw the emergence of a future star from one of the youngest teams in all of Canada. After flirting with a pair of double-doubles over the weekend, first-year guard Kaitlyn Overeem formally introduced herself to the rest of the league and staked her claim as one of the top young stars in the league as the Waterloo Warriors picked up a pair of wins.
Up north, fans were treated to a rematch of the 2017-18 Critelli Cup. The Carleton Ravens played host to the McMaster Marauders, as two of the top teams in the league this season squared off for the first time. The Ottawa Gee-Gees also made a statement on Friday night in a top-10 battle to show that the OUA is considerably deep this season.
Then, off the court, Chantal Vallée made history ahead of the inaugural season for the Hamilton Honey Badgers. With a rich history of success with the Windsor Lancers, Vallee became the first woman to be named both Head Coach and General Manager of a men’s professional basketball team.
It certainly was an exciting week in the OUA with the holiday break just around the corner, so here are the top storylines from the last seven days across the OUA women’s basketball landscape.
McMaster beats Carleton in rematch of 2017-18 Critelli Cup
Saturday saw the McMaster Marauders exact a bit of revenge on the Carleton Ravens on their home floor.
Last year, the Marauders and Ravens were the top two teams in the OUA, leading their paths to cross in the OUA Championship with the Critelli Cup on the line. At that time, Carleton came into the game without a loss to their name, looking to continue their winning ways and maintain their stronghold on the U SPORTS No. 1 ranking by securing the provincial title. On the flip side, the Marauders were looking to enter the national championship with a big boost of momentum as they continued their quest for a U SPORTS title.
While both teams would advance to the national tournament, only one team could hoist the Critelli Cup, and in the end, the Ravens would pick up the 75-66 win to secure their second straight OUA banner.
This year, the Marauders have their sights set on securing a Critelli Cup of their own, and after a loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Friday night, McMaster had their shot at redemption against the Ravens inside the Ravens Nest. Carleton came into the game with a 6-1 record on the year, while the Marauders entered at 6-2.
McMaster came out of the gates strong, holding the Ravens to single-digit points in both the first and second quarters to take a 27-14 lead after the opening 20 minutes. The second half was much more even in terms of score, as the Ravens outscored McMaster by a slim 38-37 margin, but it was too little too late for Carleton.
After coming oh-so close a year ago in the title game, McMaster was able to exact a bit of revenge on Carleton as they picked up the 64-52 win on Saturday to hand the Ravens their second loss of the season. Hilary Hanaka (Hamilton, ON) and Linnaea Harper (Newmarket, ON) led the way for the Hamilton squad with 15 points apiece while Olivia Wilson (Lion’s Head, ON) recorded a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Carleton now finds themselves in some unfamiliar territory with two regular season losses to their name. That eclipses their combined total of regular season defeats from both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. The win for McMaster keeps them tied with the Lakehead Thunderwolves for top spot in the OUA West Division with 14 points.
Kaitlyn Overeem carries Waterloo to weekend sweep
Over the weekend, Kaitlyn Overeem (Brantford, ON) introduced herself to the rest of the OUA in a big way with a pair of impressive performances for the Waterloo Warriors.
It was a slow start to the regular season for Waterloo and their nine first-year players. It took some time for the newcomers to get acclimated to OUA play, but now they seem to have found their groove and are playing their best basketball of the season. Following their weekend sweep of the Laurentian Voyageurs and Nipissing Lakers, the Warriors have now won three of their last four games and are showing that there’s a bright future for the black and gold.
This weekend also saw first-year guard Kaitlyn Overeem take a starring role for the Warriors, showcasing her talents on both ends of the floor and generating some buzz around her future status as a star in the league. In total, she recorded 40 points, 12 rebounds, and 17 assists over the two games.
Waterloo kicked off the weekend with a game on Friday against Nipissing. The Warriors fell behind by eight points after the first quarter, but a big second frame saw them flip the script and take a six-point lead into the half, 36-30. A similarly impressive third quarter helped Waterloo extend their lead to double-digits, and they would roll the rest of the way to the 78-63 win over the Lakers.
Overeem stuffed the stat sheet on both ends of the floor, finishing with 25 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and four steals to lead the way for Waterloo.
The next night was a different scenario for the Warriors. They took a five-point lead after the first quarter, and while Laurentian cut into the lead slightly in the second frame, they maintained a four-point cushion heading into the break. In the third quarter, the Voyageurs outscored the Warriors by eight points to take a four-point lead of their own into the final frame, but Waterloo didn’t roll over.
Laurentian’s lead grew to as many as six points in the final frame, but the Warriors continued to fight. With the score tied up at 61-all, Overeem hit a jumper with 40 seconds left on the clock to put Waterloo ahead by two; a lead they would carry that lead to the final buzzer. Waterloo picked up their second straight win with a 63-61 victory over the visiting Voyageurs.
On the night, Overeem recorded 15 points, four rebounds, nine assists, two steals, and three blocks for another strong two-way performance.
Chantal Vallée makes history with the Hamilton Honey Badgers
She is one of the most accomplished university basketball coaches in Canada, and now, she is breaking barriers in professional basketball.
This past week, Windsor Lancers head coach Chantal Vallée was named the first-ever Head Coach and General Manager of the Hamilton Honey Badgers, one of six teams in the newly-formed Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL), which is set to begin play in May. Vallée becomes the first woman in basketball history to be named as both Head Coach and General Manager in a men’s professional league and is the second woman to serve as Head Coach of a men’s professional team.
With the OUA season going through the winter and the CEBL in the summer, the Windsor bench boss will continue to serve in her role with the Lancers and will coach the Honey Badgers in the offseason.
Vallée’s resume with the Lancers speaks volumes about her coaching ability. Back in 2005, she took over as the Head Coach at Windsor after serving as an assistant coach at McGill University and the University of British Columbia. She took over a Lancers team that had just four winning seasons in 45 years. In just her third season at Windsor, the team posted a record of 22-9, and that was just a sign of what was to come for the program.
In 2008-09, the Lancers went 33-4 over the course of the season, advancing to the national championship tournament. That began a seven-year run of tournament appearances. Two years later, the Lancers won their first of five straight national championships after posting a record of 20-2 in the regular season.
The 2012-13 rendition of the Lancers became the first program to register a perfect regular season record since the OUA went to the expanded schedule, finishing at 21-0.
With a history of success in her back pocket and a lengthy basketball resume that includes a pair of U SPORTS Coach of the Year awards, Vallée will look to help lead the Honey Badgers to the CEBL title in the league’s inaugural season, which gets underway on May 12, 2019.