Contributed by: Tyler Bennett / College Court Report Canada (@CCR_Canada)
OUA basketball is back and what an opening week it was across Ontario.
The league’s top two contenders opened the season with impressive wins, stellar individual performances across the league has players well positioned for career-years ahead, and a bevy of close contests came down to the final minutes to crown opening week winners. Needless to say, the opening week of OUA play had a little bit of everything, which bodes well for the rest of the season.
From breakout performances to nail-biting wins, here’s what you may have missed over the course of opening week in the OUA.
Carleton knocks off Ottawa to begin national title defence
For the first time ever, the Carleton Ravens will enter the season as the defending national champions in women’s basketball.
The Bronze Baby trophy will reside in the nation’s capital for the year and the Ravens have their sights set on keeping it for even longer than that. On the heels of a perfect season in 2017-18, Carleton was looking to keep their winning ways intact and open the new year with a victory over the Gee-Gees. While Ottawa made the defending champions sweat down to the wire, the Ravens came away with a 58-56 win to begin their title defence on the right foot.
Second-year guard Madison Reid (Carleton Place, ON) led the Ravens with 19 points and three assists, while Nicole Gilmore (Hamilton, ON) had 13 points, nine rebounds, and three steals. As a team, Carleton shot 34.4% (22-of-64) from the field in the win.
The Gee-Gees were led by Amelie Hachey (Drummondville, Que), who recorded 15 points and seven rebounds. Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu (Gatineau, Que) chipped in with 13 points and eight boards.
Down the stretch, Ottawa got back to within two points with 30 seconds left on a pair of free throws from Sarah Besselink (Kingston, ON), but they were never able to complete the comeback, as the Ravens edged out the two-point victory to take round one of the Ottawa rivalry in 2018-19.
McMaster opens the year with two impressive wins
Last season, the McMaster Marauders advanced to the U SPORTS Final Eight tournament, and after seeing such success a season ago, the Marauders will have the bulk of their production back from last season, which they showcased early on to kick off their campaign.
Through two games this season, the Marauders look the part, as a pair of impressive wins has McMaster at 2-0 and looking like a threat to make it back to the national championship tournament.
In their opener, the Marauders used a strong defensive performance to hold Waterloo under 40 points, cruising to the 75-33 victory. The Warriors shot just 20% (12-of-60) from the floor on the night, and no player for Waterloo reached double-digit points.
Hilary Hanaka (Hamilton, ON) led McMaster with 21 points, three rebounds, and three assists to kick off her impressive opening weekend. Linnaea Harper (Newmarket, ON) recorded a double-double, posting 13 points and pulling down 15 rebounds.
Three nights later, the Marauders welcomed the Windsor Lancers to town in a battle of top teams in the conference. It was much closer than their first game, but McMaster came away victorious once again. The Marauders outscored the Lancers 45-26 over the second and third quarters, propelling them to the 74-66 victory over Windsor.
McMaster got 68 of their points from their starting five, with the other six coming from Julia Hanaka (Hamilton, ON). Once again, Hilary Hanaka led the way with 21 points, while Harper stuffed the stat sheet again with 17 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
Carly Steer (Windsor, ON) led the way for the Lancer with 14 points in the loss.
Western drops Laurier in first overtime game of the season
There were a few close games over the course of the first week of the regular season, but only one of them went to overtime.
On Saturday, the Western Mustangs were coming off a season-opening loss to Guelph, and had their sights set on evening their record on the road against Laurier. On the flip side, the Golden Hawks opened their season with a win over the Brock Badgers, and they were looking to double their win total in their home opener.
Forty minutes wasn’t enough to decide a winner, so fans were treated to an early overtime affair.
Western managed to outscore Laurier in the final frame to play spoiler in the Hawks’ home opener, and after being held to just 40 points in their loss to the Gryphons, the Mustangs came away with a 68-65 win on Saturday to split their two-game stretch.
The Mustangs were led by the pair of Julia Curran (Waterloo, ON) and Laura Graham (Sudbury, ON), who combined for 48 points in the victory. Curran recorded 27 points and five rebounds, while Graham added 21 points, five rebounds, and three steals. The pair combined to go 15-of-29 from the floor.
Rachel Woodburn (Ajax, ON) recorded 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the way for the Golden Hawks, while Maya Day (Kitchener, ON) had 11 points, five rebounds, and six assists. Like the Mustangs, Laurier ended their first weekend with an even record.