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RECAP: #2 Ottawa rallies back to capture Capital Hoops Classic win

Photo: Greg Mason.
Photo: Greg Mason.

The nationally second-ranked Gee-Gees women's basketball team won the 13th edition of the Capital Hoops Classic in a nail-biter, defeating the ninth-ranked Carleton Ravens by a 77-75 score on Friday evening at TD Place before a crowd of 8,103.

"We really struggled to guard them tonight from pretty much every position," said Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks. "We switched to zone in the fourth quarter and they didn't get as much penetration into the key. That was probably the difference in the game. 

The Gee-Gees improved to 5-8 all-time in the Capital Hoops Classic, winning the annual tournament for the second straight year. This was the first year the event was held at TD Place.

Carleton took command of the game from the outset, with the Ravens jumping out to an 8-0 lead. 

Ottawa trailed 18-12 at the end of the first quarter, but the shots began to fall for the Gee-Gees. Tyra Blizzard and Natsuki Szczokin both hit threes, giving the Gee-Gees their first lead with 5:40 left in the second quarter. 

The Ravens held on to lead 40-37 at the half. The Gee-Gees were heating up behind a 10-point first half performance from Angela Ribarich.

The game continued to be a tight, back-and-forth affair in the third quarter, with neither team leading by double-digits down the stretch. Ottawa stayed within striking distance as the Ravens led by five entering the final quarter.

A clutch shot from Szczokin and a lay-up in transition from McAlear-Fanus gave Ottawa their second lead of the game with 2:53 remaining in the game. Ribarich earned an and-one inside the final minute to allow the Gee-Gees to seal the game at the free throw line.

"It was wild. It was one of those games that was once-in-a-lifetime," said Ribarich. "It's an amazing feeling to come away from it with a win. They're a really good team, Carleton, there's a ton of respect between us as much as it's a rivalry." 

Ribarich scored a game-high 24 points tying her career-high in an OUA game. McAlear-Fanus recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists, finishing just shy of a triple-double with eight rebounds. Tyra Blizzard rounded out Ottawa's double-digit scorers with 14 points and five rebounds.

"We felt when the game came into this location that the environment would be even better," said Sparks. "This facility is ideal for this game. You could feel the energy and you could feel the Gee-Gees support."

The Gee-Gees (now 18-2) remain in first place in the OUA East division, while Carleton (13-7) stay in second. 

Ottawa returns to Montpetit Hall to wrap up their regular season next weekend. They take on the eighth-ranked Brock Badgers on Friday and the McMaster Marauders on Saturday. Tip-off for both games are scheduled for 6 p.m.