Heading into a season full of promise for the Gee-Gees women's basketball team, an early test against the defending national champion Carleton Ravens was a great proving ground for the team's expectations.
An exciting contest on paper lived up to its hype as two of the nation's top teams did battle at Montpetit Hall on Friday night to open their respective OUA seasons. A feverous final minute had the Gee-Gees threaten to upend the new-look Ravens. When the final buzzer sounded as Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus narrowly missed a shot to tie, the Ravens emerged successful by a gritty 58-56 final margin.
The teams were neck-and-neck through most of the game, leads of 10 for the Gee-Gees and eight for the Ravens were the furthest momentum swung in either direction for the teams.
For a team that can shoot as well as the Gee-Gees can, a factor in the loss was quiet performances from their outside threats, Maia Timmons and Sarah Besselink attempted a near shocking zero three-pointers. Amélie Hachey, the Gee-Gees' leading scorer on the night with 15 points, had three of the teams four three-pointers on the night.
Save for being narrowly outrebounded, the Gee-Gees shot better from the field, three, and the free throw line, but ultimately it was some key missed opportunities down the stretch that turned the game into the Ravens' favour.
"We're not happy with the way we played tonight," said Hachey, who also chipped in seven rebounds and three steals. "Carleton's a good team, but we need to work on us. We need to show more toughness, they stayed tough when they were down and we let this one get away."
With immense talent on the roster, there is no reason for an opening night loss to Carleton to define the path of the team in any way, but what it will do is motivate the players going forward.
"We need to use this one as a driving force," said Hachey. "We're going to have to keep thinking about that game and have it make us work harder in practice."
Up next, the Gee-Gees will host Waterloo and Laurier next weekend at Montpetit Hall. In one meeting each last season, the Gee-Gees defeated the Warriors, but lost to the Golden Hawks in double-overtime in Waterloo. Both games are set for 6 p.m. tip-offs on Friday and Saturday evening.