With a berth to the OUA Critelli Cup finals and a spot at nationals on the line, the first ranked Gee-Gees battled the Lakehead Thunderwolves at Montpetit Hall on Wednesday night in front of a raucous crowd.
Taking a 22-point lead into the halftime break, the Gee-Gees held off a second half comeback effort from the Thunderwolves to come away with a 68-60 victory.
Coming out of the gates strong, thGee-Gees rushed out to a 13-2 lead before heading into the first intermission up 15-7, thanks in large pae rt to an early 7 points from fifth year guard Sarah Besselink.
The second quarter was much of the same for the Gee-Gees, as they continued to dominate on both ends of the court, forcing the Thunderwolves into six of their eight first half turnovers and turning those into transition opportunities on the offensive end. After the first half of play, the Gee-Gees were shooting 42.9 percent from the field, while holding the Thunderwolves to just 20.6 percent.
The second half was a completely different story as the Thunderwolves used a zone defence to stymie the Gee-Gees offensive attack and made a concerted effort to unlock two-time OUA Payer of the Year Leashja Grant on the offensive end of the floor, as she scored 19 of her game high 24 points in the third and fourth quarters.
After cutting the lead down to just five points with just five minutes to go in the game, the Thunderwolves kept the score within 10 points all the way down to the wire, but the Gee-Gees were able to keep them at bay thanks to some lockdown defence and clutch shooting, especially from Anne Carr and Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus.
"They forced some of our players who aren't used to being scorers into bigger scoring roles and that caught us a bit off guard. Brooklynn and Anne had to step up, because they were guarding our other three players really tight, and they did exactly that which was big for us", said head coach Andy Sparks after the game.
"Last game it was Jen Crowe who came up big on both ends and tonight it was Anne, and even though those aren't necessarily our all-stars, those are the kind of performances we're going to need down the stretch if we want to make it all the way."
Looking ahead to Saturday's OUA Final, McAlear-Fanus, who was named an OUA First Team All-Star and led the Gee-Gees with 22 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds on Wednesday, shared her thoughts on the next step.
"We have such a special group of girls and this is exactly how we wanted the year to go so far. Even though we're already going to nationals, we want to win the Critelli Cup."
The Gee-Gees are back in action Saturday at 4 p.m. at Montpetit Hall as they face off against the McMaster Marauders for the 2019 OUA Critelli Cup.
Tickets are available online at tickets.geegees.ca. For those unable to attend, the game will be streaming live on OUA.tv.