BURLINGTON, Ont. - With the best basketball players in the world set to descend upon Toronto next weekend for NBA All-Star 2016, Ontario University Athletics (OUA) men’s and women’s basketball will also take to NBA Centre Court as part of the weekend festivities.
On Saturday, Feb. 13 2016, the five-time defending CIS women’s basketball champion Windsor Lancers will take on the OUA East division leading Queen’s Gaels, while on Sunday, the No. 1 nationally-ranked Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team will tip off against the crosstown rival University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
Both OUA showcase games will take place on “Home Court” at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, Ont. and are scheduled to tipoff at approximately 4:30 p.m.
Tickets are general admission with standard tickets costing $30, while child tickets (2-14) are $15. OUA fans wishing to watch the games can receive a $5 discount by using the promo code 5OFFOUA. Tickets are on sale now at NBATickets.com or click here to buy tickets now.
With just three weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff race is really starting to heat up across the conference. The Gaels sit tied for first atop the OUA East division with an 11-3 record, while the Lancers are currently second in the West at 11-4 and trail the Western Mustangs by just two points. Both teams have identical 7-3 records over their past 10 games with Windsor having rattled off four consecutive wins, while Queen’s is riding a modest two game winning streak.
This is the only regular season meeting between the two teams this season and their first since Windsor defeated Queen’s 89-81 on Jan. 30, 2015. Despite a game-high 21 points from Jenny Wright (Kingston, Ont.), the Gaels couldn’t solve the Lancers trio of Korissa Williams, Jocelyn LaRocque and Andrea Kiss (Tecumseh, Ont.) who scored a combined 55 points in the victory.
The five-time defending CIS national champion Lancers continue to be one of the most dominant teams in OUA, averaging 77.7 points per game to sit second in the conference. As a team, Windsor is shooting 40.2 percent, which ranks them third behind the Rams and Mustangs. However, where the Lancers really make teams pay is their physical presence and ability to not only get to the free throw line but make their shots count. Windsor gets to the line a league high 26.9 times per game, while converting on 19.6 of those attempts
On the other side of the ball, the Gaels pride themselves on their smothering defence to shut down the opposition. Queen’s ranks third in OUA in opponents’ field goal percentage at 34.4 percent and is allowing a stingy 58.4 points per game against. The Gaels will have success on Saturday if they can avoid a track meet with high powered Lancers offence. Queen’s is averaging just 66.6 points per game this season, more than 10 points less than the Lancers, so a low-scoring, defensive battle will be in the Gaels favour.
One matchup in particular to watch on Saturday will be on the glass between two of the best rebounding teams in the conference. Queen’s has controlled the defensive glass and is averaging 30.6 rebounds per game, while Windsor ranks first in OUA with a margin of 11.3 rebounds per game.
The Gaels are led by power forward Robyn Pearson (Toronto, Ont.) who has dominated the glass this season, averaging 11.4 rebounds per game to rank first in OUA. The Lancers will counter with Emily Prevost (Montreal, QC) who sits just two spots behind Pearson with 144 rebounds in 15 games this season for Windsor. On offence, Pearson is practically averaging a double-double with 9.9 points per game to go along with her rebounds, while Prevost is ranked 10th in the conference with 14.9 points per game.
If the Gaels, focus too much on Prevost, however, the Lancers will surely make them pay on the glass as Kiss and Cheyanne Roger (Etobicoke, Ont.) are averaging 9.1 and 8.9 rebounds per game, respectively. Roger, a third-year human kinetics major, sits second behind Prevost with 14.5 points per game, while Kiss ranks third on the team at with 12.6 points.
Queen’s will counter on Saturday with a pretty good trio of their own in Jenny Wright, Emily Hazlett (Fredericton, N.B.) and Abby Dixon (North Vancouver, B.C.).
In her fifth and final season in tricolor, veteran Jenny Wright appears to have her hometown Gaels poised to make a deep championship run when the calendar turns to March. The nursing science student-athlete is averaging 11.5 points per game this season to lead Queen’s.
The Gaels have a great 1-2 punch at guard as Hazlett and Dixon rank second and third, respectively, in points per game on a deep Queen’s roster. Hazlett, a Fredericton, N.B. native, is averaging 10.1 points per game to go along with team high 3.6 assists per game. On the other hand, Dixon, a third-year kinesiology student-athlete, has scored 9.9 points per game, which ties her with Pearson, and 2.5 assists per game.
Windsor will also have to keep a close eye on Abby Dixon, as the shifty 5-foot-10 guard, sits ninth in the conference in steals (21). The North Vancouver, B.C. native terrorized the Blues earlier this season when she has six assists, five steals and 13 points and could disrupt the Lancers game plan.
On Sunday, the next chapter will be written in the heated rivalry between the Ryerson Rams and the crosstown University of Toronto Varsity Blues. The Rams sit atop the OUA East division with a 12-1 record and the No. 1 national ranking in the country, while the Blues find themselves in third in the division at 5-8. However, any time these two teams play, records, rankings and reputations don’t mean anything.
In their first meeting of the season, Ryerson almost found this out the hard way as Juwon Grannum (Mississauga, Ont.) hit the game winning layup with 10 seconds remaining to lift the Rams to an 85-84 thrilling victory over the Blues to open the season. Adika Peter-McNeilly (Scarborough, Ont.) had a game high 25 points and 8 rebounds in the win for the Rams, while rookie Devon Williams (Sharon, Mass) had a team high 23 points for Toronto.
After capturing a CIS bronze medal on their home court last season, many around OUA wondered if this would be the Ram’s year. Winners of nine straight, including back-to-back- victories over perennial powerhouses Ottawa and Carleton, Ryerson has silenced their critics with their performance on the court.
As a team, Ryerson is averaging 91.0 points thanks in large part to their aerial attack from beyond the arc where they are second in OUA, shooting 37.2 percent. Despite getting the free throw line just 17.9 times per game, the Rams have made their chances count, shooting 77.3 percent from the charity stripe to sit first in the conference.
The Blues almost pulled off the shocker to open the season and would like nothing more than to take down the top team of the country on the biggest stage as part of the NBA All-Star festivities. Toronto is averaging 74.1 points per game, while holding opponents to a 41.9 field goal percentage. Despite their record, the Blues have proven on numerous occasions that they can hang with some of the best teams in the conference. Not only did they almost knock of the Rams to open the season, last weekend against the No. 4 ranked Brock Badgers the Blues lost by only six points, 77-71. Don’t let the Blues’ 5-8 record fool you as three of their losses this season have been by just one point.
The Rams are led once again this season by fifth-year guard Aaron Best (Scarborough, Ont.). Best, who missed the first three games of the season due to injury, is now fully healthy and back to terrorizing the opposition. The two-time OUA first-team all-star ranks third in OUA with a three-point percentage and seventh overall, averaging 18.8 points.
Ryerson has one of the deepest rosters in not only OUA but CIS as five players are averaging in double-digits for points per game. In addition to Best, Ammanuel Diressa (Toronto, Ont.) sits second on the team with 15.4 points and is followed closely behind by Peter-McNeilly with 15.2 points. Third-year guard Roshane Roberts (Vaughan, Ont.) is averaging 11.2 points, while Jean-Victor Mukama (Hamilton, Ont.) sits fifth on the team with a tidy 10.0 points per game.
Fourth-year forward Devin Johnson (Ajax, Ont.) has established himself as the leader of the Blues this season and finds himself ranked third in OUA with 22.5 points per game. Not only is Johnson a force to be reckoned with offensively, but defensively, the political science major is sixth in the league, averaging 7.7 rebounds per game.
From Devin to Devon, the freshman guard from Sharon, Mass. ranks second on the team, averaging 10.8 points per game and will likely be in the Rookie of the Year conversation at the end of the season. In just his first season in the league, Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard, sits second behind teammate Sage Usher (Toronto, Ont.) with 29 assists in 12 games this season for the Blues.
In Williams and Usher, the Blues have two great, young building blocks at the guard position. Usher, who helped Canada win gold earlier this year at 2015 Pan American Maccabi Games in Chile, ranks sixth in the conference with 4.4 assists per game to go along with 7.8 points.
If you can't make it to “Home Court” at the Enercare Centre for the game, catch all the action Saturday and Sunday streaming live on OUA.tv beginning at 4:30 p.m.
For more information on NBA Centre Court and the OUA Showcase games, follow @NBAAllStar and @OUAsport on Twitter or visit OUA.ca.