RECAP: Gee-Gees refuse to fumble OUA title
After more than three decades of toiling in oblivion, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women's basketball team finally has a provincial championship banner to hang in the rafters of Montpetit Hall.
With perhaps the most luminous performance ever seen in garnet and grey by point guard Moriah Trowell, the Gee-Gees rallied from a 12-point half-time deficit to dump the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks 64-60 yesterday to commandeer their firth Ontario University Athletics crown.
Yet, there was more at stake than just OUA bragging rights. With the Gee-Gees and Golden Hawks having already qualified for this week's Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships in Winnipeg as OUA East and West Division champions, respectively, there was the matter of earning a higher tournament seed.
Then there was school honour, given that U of O athletic director Luc Gélineau had made a wager with Laurier counterpart Peter Baxter: The loser would have to sport the opponent's colours when their football teams meet next fall.
With a banner to be won and all that pride on the line, "there was no way we could let them beat us in our house," said Trowell, who scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Gee-Gees neglected both low-post defence and rebounding responsibilities as they fell behind 41-29 at the break.
However, they escaped their group catatonia in the second half and began boxing out and demonstrating familiarity with the principle of defensive rotations. They opened with a 10-3 run, including two buckets by Julie Rodrigue, Kristen Moyle's three-point basket and a driving layup by Trowell.
Then Trowell took total command, hammering a pair of three-pointers, converting an offensive rebound into another basket and slashing inside for one more to give the Gee-Gees a 52-48 lead.
She ripped down four defensive rebounds, knifed along the baseline for a basket and twice dished the ball to Rodrigue for layups as the Gee-Gees extended their margin to 61-49 and then hung on for the win, earning a standing ovation from their rabid fans.
"We got outworked in the first half," Trowell said. "But it's all about heart and, in the second half, we said 'Forget it, you are not going to beat us, or outwork us, in our gym.'"
Rodrigue said the notion of being humiliated at home was unacceptable. "We started doing the little things right. Everyone stepped up, played good team defence and started having fun."
Senior Natalie Johnston said the Gee-Gees couldn't let the long-elusive championship banner get away without a fight. "We're all so tired right now, it's probably not showing, but what we've accomplished will sink in, in about two hours, and then we'll be totally ecstatic."
Gee-Gees coach Angie McLeod couldn't find words to describe Trowell's sublime performance. "She just won't let this team lose. That's the kind of kid she is."
Rodrigue added 20 points. Meaghan McGrath paced the Golden Hawks with 15 points.
This article originally appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on Sunday, March 7 2004. It was written by Wayne Kondro.