BURLINGTON, Ont. – The Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) on the campus of Queen's University will serve as host to the OUA Critelli Cup Final Four, presented by lululemon, this weekend.
The semifinal round will commence Friday with the No. 4 seeded Windsor Lancers taking on the host No. 1 Queen's Gaels at 6:00 pm, followed by the No. 3 McMaster Marauders and No. 2 Carleton Ravens at 8:00 pm. The winners of each matchup will face off for the Critelli Cup in the gold medal game the following day at 8:00 p.m., which will be preceded by the bronze medal game at 6:00 p.m.
Tickets for the event are now available here. If you can't make it to the Queen's ARC this weekend, fans can catch all the action streaming live on OUA.tv
No. 4 Windsor Lancers vs. No. 1 Queen's Gaels
With three OUA titles in the past four seasons and making their tenth consecutive Final Four appearance, the Windsor Lancers aren't your typical No. 4 seed. After seeing their streak of three straight provincial championships come to an end last year, the Lancers will take on the top seeded Queen's Gaels in the semifinals on Friday.
Year after year, the Lancers continue to be one of the most balanced teams in the OUA ranking third in both points per game (73.5) and points per game allowed (55.7).
With two of the best rebounding teams in the conference going head-to-head on Friday night, the battle of the boards will surely go a long way to determining who will advance to the Critelli Cup final. The Gaels have pulled down 47 rebounds per game, the most amongst any remaining team, while Windsor ranks fourth behind the other three Final Four finalists.
You can't talk about rebounding without mentioning Lancers fourth-year forward Emily Prevost (Montreal, Que.). No one grabbed more boards this season than Prevost who led OUA in both offensive (73) and defensive (135) rebounds. Not only was Prevost one of Windsor's top defensive players but she was also the Lancers top scorer, finishing in the top 10, averaging 14.5 points per game.
Prevost isn't the only fourth-year forward the Gaels will have to game plan for as Cheyanne Roger (Etobicoke, Ont.) has proven over the course of her career that she can make teams pay. Roger is as good as they come in the conference at protecting the basket, as she led the league during the regular season with 41 blocks, eight more than the next closet player.
The Lancers got revenge in the quarter-finals, eliminating the defending champion Ryerson Rams 68-50 and avenging their semifinal loss from a season ago. Prevost recorded a double-double in the win with 23 points and 16 rebounds in a game-high 39 minutes of action.
In search of their first OUA championship banner since 2001, the No. 1 seeded Gaels have a chance to bring that streak to an end on their home court.
Like the Lancers, the Gaels are a deep, well-rounded team that can not only score in bunches but stifle their opposition through suffocating defence. As a team, Queen's averaged 73.7 points on offence during the regular season, while limiting their opponents to just 56.2 points while on defence.
As a team, the Gaels got the charity stripe more than anyone this season, averaging 20.6 trips to the free throw line. Despite shooting just 66.8 percent, the 11th best mark in OUA, Queen's added on average 13.8 points per game from the line.
As the best rebounding team in the conference (if not the country), Queen's controls the glass at both ends of the court. The Gaels finished the year first in offensive rebounds per game (18.5) and second in defensive rebounds per game (28.5).
If there is anyone that can shut down Prevost, its Gaels fifth-year senior Robyn Pearson (Toronto, Ont.). Pearson, who was recently selected as an OUA first-team all-star, ranked third in OUA after averaging 10.2 rebounds per game. The Toronto, Ont. native was only one of five players this season to average a double-double after also recording 10.1 points per game.
With one of the deepest rosters in the conference, the Gaels possess several weapons every time they step out onto the court, including fifth-year veteran guard Emily Hazlett (Fredericton, NB). The shifty Hazlett was the catalyst of a Gaels high-powered offence that averaged the second-most points per game in the province. The Fredericton, N.B. native finished fifth in the conference with 78 assists over the course of 19 games this season for the Gaels.
The depth of the Gaels roster was on full display Saturday as despite just 13 points from Pearson and Hazlett, the Gaels cruised past No. 9 Lakehead 81-53. Pearson, who was in foul trouble most of the night, finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds in just 13 minutes of action.
In their only meeting of the season in Windsor earlier this year, Queen's picked up a big 73-56 win on the road. Despite only playing 20 minutes, Pearson finished with six points and 11 rebounds, while Prevost countered with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Lancers.
No. 3 McMaster Marauders vs. No. 2 Carleton Ravens
Coming off one of the best regular seasons in program history, the Marauders quest for their first Critelli Cup title since 2008 will take them to Kingston on Friday for a showdown with the No. 2 seeded Carleton Ravens.
The high-flying Marauders led the province in several key offensive categories during the regular season, including: points per game (78.6) and field goal percentage (40.5). The Marauders fired away from downtown this year, finishing first in both three pointers made (8.5) and attempted (26.2) per game.
Recently named OUA Player of the Year, McMaster guard Danielle Boiago (Hamilton, Ont.) is not only the top player in the conference but possibly in the entire country. In her fifth and final season with her hometown team, Boiago would surely love nothing more than to bring the Critelli Cup back to "The Steel City" with her on Sunday.
Appearing in all 19 games this year, Boiago led the conference averaging 25.5 points per 40 minutes. She also finished third overall in several additional offensive categories, including: assists (81) and three-pointers made (51). Known just as much for her defence as she is for her offence, Boiago was also recently named OUA Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league not only in steals (63) but ranked inside the top ten in rebounds per game (7.0).
However, Boiago isn't the only player on the Ravens radar as they'll also have to try and contain third-year forward Linnaea Harper (Newmarket, Ont.). In her third season with the team, Harper finished second behind Boiago in team scoring, averaging 12.6 points per game.
After an opening round bye, the Marauders enter Friday night's game coming off an 82-54 win over the surprising No. 11 ranked Western Mustangs in the quarter-finals. The Mustangs fate was sealed in their inability to control Boiago as she finished with a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with seven assists and six steals in a team-high 34 minutes.
Still in search of their first OUA women's title in program history, since dropping their season opener, the Ravens have played like a team possessed rattling off 19 straight wins heading into Friday's matchup with McMaster
It's no wonder Carleton has the longest running winning streak in U SPORTS, as the Ravens finished the regular season first in the OUA in both points per game allowed (51.1) and opponents' field goal percentage (31.2). As a team, Carleton also ranks first in the conference in blocks (5.2).
Despite finishing fifth in team scoring, averaging 68.2 points per game, the Ravens trail the previously mentioned Marauders by over 10 points per game on average.
After missing the final two games of the regular season, the Ravens' Nest breathed a collective sigh of relief when OUA first-team all-star forward Heather Lindsay (Ottawa, Ont.) was in the starting lineup last week.
Lindsay, a perennial first-team all-star, established herself as one of the most dominant players in the conference this season after not only leading OUA with 10.8 rebounds per game, but also shooting a league-high 55.8 percent from the field.
After spending several seasons with the crosstown rival Gee-Gees, Carleton forward Catherine Traer (Chelsea, Que.) left the barn for the nest prior to her fourth season. Traer was the Ravens most dangerous offensive player and finished the season averaging a team high 14.6 points per game.
In the Ravens' 68-51 victory over the visiting Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday, Lindsay and Traer dominated the boards, combining for 27 of Carleton's 51 rebounds. Lindsay had 11 points and 15 rebounds, while Traer filled up the box score with 14 points, 12 rebounds, three steals, three blocks and two assists.
The Ravens soared past the Marauders 77-51 in their only meeting of the regular season back on Dec. 3. McMaster had no answer for Lindsay as she had a game high 25 points and 17 rebounds to go along with three steals, three blocks and an assist. For McMaster, Boiago and Harper combined for 23 points on 10-of-29 shooting.