Women’s basketball wins OUA bronze medal in thrilling double OT win
OTTAWA, Ont. — It took two overtime quarters, but the Wilfrid Laurier women’s basketball team pulled off what they set out to do.
The Hawks defeated the Carleton Ravens 70-65 in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) bronze medal game Saturday afternoon to claim the bronze medal and a berth into next weekend’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships in Windsor, Ont.
After a rough loss against the Windsor Lancers last weekend, the Hawks refocused to the bronze medal game.
In the only other meeting between Laurier and Carleton this year, the Hawks won 58-49.
“It feels amazing,” fourth-year Whitney Ellenor said after the win. “Doreen [Bonsu], Bree [Chaput], Laura [Doyle] and Kim [Yeldon] have worked so hard over the past four years and really are the core of this team and have helped us to get here. So to do it for them is amazing, as well as for everyone else. We’ve put in so much work to get here over the year.”
“I think perseverance was a big characteristic tonight,” head coach Paul Falco said. “Carleton’s a tough team. I thought the game could have gone either way, so you have to give them a lot of credit.”
The game Saturday began very defensive, as after the first quarter, Laurier only led 9-6.
With a bit of back and forth playing, the Ravens and Hawks played to a 19-19 tie going into the half.
“We like to keep it interesting for everyone, so we like to keep it close in the first half,” laughed Ellenor. “But we went to the locker room as the half time, we talked, and just regrouped and were like ‘we’re going to win this game. We’re going to come out, we’re going to work our butts off, we’re going to win this game.’”
Second-year Kaitlyn Schenck became a large offensive presence for the Hawks, putting up a few three-pointers in the third quarter to help Laurier stay with the Ravens and spread the lead to five. At the end of three quarters, Laurier led 35-32.
In the fourth, the game began to become thrilling. Back and forth buckets forced both teams to foul each other to the bonus. Ellenor tied the game up with 52.9 seconds left and as the Ravens missed their final shot at the buzzer, the game was sent to overtime.
The first overtime would solve nothing as both teams stayed evenly matched throughout the frame. At the end of the first overtime, it was tied 63-63.
“It just shows how resilient we are and how hard we want to work for the entire thing,” Ellenor said about the team battling through two overtime frames. “We have players at the end that I don’t think came off through overtime. So that’s an extra 20 minutes straight of playing. It just shows how hard we’ve worked and how well we were prepared for this.”
“It’s amazing. We’ve worked so hard this season, coming back from injuries and a lot of defeats and stuff like that. So we’re coming back and it feels so good,” Schenck said after the victory.
In the second overtime, Laurier used their free throw strength to their advantage to spread the gap in the final minute. Ellenor was sent to the line and sunk both of her free throws to make the game 69-65 with 6.5 seconds left, and then Samantha Jacobs sunk one of her two free throws at the end of the game to give Laurier the win.
The last time Laurier went to the CIS championship was in 2010-11. This is Laurier’s best finish on the OUA platform since 2003-04 when the team won OUA silver in a loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
“It’s great. It’s especially great for our seniors,” Falco said. “We’ve got four girls who were in Windsor three years ago for nationals and were extremely motivated to get back and finish their careers there. It’s a great accomplishment and it’s going to be a good experience for our younger girls and we’re looking forward to playing the top teams in the country.”
— With files from Laurier Athletics