Ninety-Four Feet: Badgers get back to .500 mark as season continues to wind down

Ninety-Four Feet: Badgers get back to .500 mark as season continues to wind down

Contributed by: Tyler Bennett / College Court Report Canada (@CCR_Canada)

All eyes were on the nation’s capital this weekend for a pair of top-10 battles and neither game disappointed.

The weekend that was caused a bit of a stir in the regular season standings with just three weeks to go before the postseason kicks off. The second-ranked Ryerson Rams were in Ottawa, Ont. for games against the sixth-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees and the eighth-ranked Carleton Ravens to complete the regular season series with both teams and when all was said and done, the standings in the East Division looked considerably different at the top.

Meanwhile, the West Division played out as expected. The Brock Badgers completed a weekend sweep to get back to the .500 mark for the third time this season, and they are hoping that this time they can continue their forward momentum and finally get over the hump. As was the case for the St. Catharines squad, home teams reigned supreme this week as only one home side suffered a loss (sorry, Waterloo Warriors.) Home court advantage was clearly key and it led to some impressive performances across the province.

Here are two of the top story lines that stood out above the rest from the week that was in women’s basketball across the OUA landscape.

Brock sweeps Algoma at home to move back to .500

After a rough start to the season, the Brock Badgers continued their second-half push towards the postseason with another strong weekend on their home floor in St. Catharines. Their latest action saw the Algoma Thunderbirds take on the Badgers inside Bob Davis Gymnasium with the hopes of ending their four-game losing streak and halting the Badgers’ momentum.

Instead, the Badgers improved to 9-9 on the year with a pair of strong wins in front of their faithful fans.

Friday night saw the teams engage in a low-scoring affair, one that set the tone for the second game on Saturday as well. Second year guard Kristin Gallant (Milton, Ont.) came to play for the Badgers, scoring eight of her 17 points in the opening frame to help Brock take a 17-10 lead after the opening 10 minutes. In the second quarter, Brock held the Thunderbirds to just four points while scoring 12 of their own to push their lead to double-digits ahead of halftime.

From there, the result of the game was never in serious question. The Badgers built on their lead as the second half wore on and they came away with the 59-35 win to kick off their weekend on the right foot. Eleven of the 12 Badgers that saw the court on Friday night recorded at least one point, while Gallant’s 17 points were a game-high. Courtney McPherson (Welland, Ont.) put together a solid night with six points, seven rebounds, three assists, and five steals.

On Saturday, the Badgers and Thunderbirds combined for just eight points in the first quarter, ending things tied at 4-all after 10 minutes. Algoma started the second strong, taking a four-point lead at 15-11 on a jumper from Rebecca Wylie (London, Ont.). Brock would find an answer on offence by going on a 10-0 run over a four-plus minute stretch that saw them take a 21-15 lead before Sawyer Fischer (Wallaceburg, Ont.) beat the buzzer with a jumper to get Algoma within four points at the break.

The second half saw the Badgers pull away and take the game over. Guard Melissa Tatti (Welland, Ont.) scored 13 of her game-high 21 points over the final 20 minutes of the contest. Brock outscored the Thunderbirds by a 20-15 margin in the third quarter to take a nine-point lead into the final frame before putting Algoma away for good.

Brock found their groove on both ends of the floor in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Thunderbirds by 13 to seal the deal on their 62-40 win. Algoma got to within nine points with 3:03 to play, but a jumper from Jessica Morris (Guelph, Ont.) shortly thereafter kick-started a 13-0 run to close the game for Brock. Algoma did their best to cut into the lead as the fourth quarter rolled on but ran out of gas at the end.

The Badgers have had an up-and-down season so far. They started the year with three straight losses, only to follow that up with three straight wins to get back on track for the time being. From there, they went on a four-game losing streak to end the month of November. Now, they have won six of their last eight games overall since the start of December and they have worked their way back to the .500 mark with just three weeks left in the regular season.

As for Algoma, they have now lost six straight games and find themselves alone in last place in the OUA West Division at 4-14. There are still three weeks to try and salvage what they can of the 2018-19 season.

Ryerson drops both games in nation’s capital

Adversity is preparation for greatness.

It was a tough weekend for the second-ranked Ryerson Rams in Ottawa, as they dropped a pair of close contests against nationally-ranked teams. Their five-game win streak came to an end as a result, and they find themselves now in third place in the loaded East Division with just five games remaining in the regular season.

Up first for the Rams was a date with the sixth-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees. In their first meeting of the season back on January 6, the Rams picked up a 71-63 win on their home floor. With the second contest flipping the script to Ottawa’s friendly confines, the Gee-Gees were looking for some redemption.

From the opening tip through to the final buzzer, the game went back and forth, as neither team could gain much separation. Things were tied at 16-all at the end of the first quarter before Ryerson took a five-point lead. 35-30, into the break. Ryerson would maintain a four-point cushion after 30 minutes, but Ottawa saved its best for last.

Bronywn Williams (Toronto, Ont.) hit a pair of free throws in the opening minute to give Ryerson a six-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Amelie Hachey (Drummondville, Que.) answered with a three pointer and centre Angela Ribarich (Toronto, Ont.) followed that up with a jumper of her own to get the home side within a single point. The comeback was on, but the Rams held on to the lead as best they could.

With 5:21 to play in the game, Marin Scotten (Ottawa, Ont.) hit a free throw to give the Rams a 57-55 advantage. Little did we know at the time, but that was the last point that Ryerson would score on the night. Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus (Ottawa, Ont.) tied the game at 57-all with 3:40 left on a layup, and the score would remain that way until just over a minute later when Hachey hit a jumper to give the Gee-Gees the lead for good.

When the dust settled, Ottawa held down their home court to earn a split in the season series against Ryerson, 60-57.

From there, the road didn’t get any easier for the Rams as they took on the defending national champion Carleton Ravens the very next night. Ryerson dropped a 78-70 decision to the Ravens in their first meeting back on January 5, which was their last loss prior to their defeat against Ottawa on Friday.

After controlling the pace and leading for much of the game the night before, the Rams found themselves playing from behind most of Saturday night against the Ravens. Ryerson held a slim one-point lead after the first quarter, and after a layup from Sofia Paska (Etobicoke, Ont.) gave them a 15-14 lead with 9:21 to play in the second quarter, the Rams didn’t hold another edge for the rest of the first half.  Nicole Gilmore (Hamilton, Ont.) hit a three pointer on the next possession for the Ravens and from there, the home team was off to the races.

Carleton took a slim three-point lead into the break, 28-25, and the second half opened with both teams trading baskets. A three-point play from Cara Tiemens (Newmarket, Ont.) put the Rams ahead by one point for a total of 15 seconds before Gilmore got a layup to fall to put the Ravens back ahead.

From there, the Ravens would never trail the rest of the way. Carleton’s lead would spread to as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, and they completed the regular season sweep of the Rams with a 71-62 decision inside the Ravens Nest. Gilmore finished with a double-double of 29 points and 12 rebounds in the win while Alyssa Cerino (Stoney Creek, Ont.) finished with 15 points and six rebounds.

The losses drop Ryerson to 14-4 on the year, and they are two games behind Ottawa for top spot in the division. Carleton is sandwiched in the middle of the two teams with a 15-3 record to this point in the year.

As the host institution for the U SPORTS Women’s Basketball National Championship in March, the Rams are guaranteed one of the eight spots in the field. While that’s all fine and dandy, the Rams want to earn their spot in the event and prove that they belong as opposed to having the spot handed to them. You can bet that over the final five regular season games, head coach Carly Clarke and her staff will have the Rams more than ready for the OUA playoffs to contend for a league title ahead of the national tournament on their home floor.

Special shout-out to anyone and everyone from across the OUA and Canada-wide who took part in Shoot for the Cure games in some capacity and for donating to help fund breast cancer research. Every donation will help in some way, shape or form, and it will go a long way.