The 2012 OUA Championship game was one of the most commanding performances by the Gee-Gees women's basketball team. Ottawa, playing on home court, built a tremendous 46-16 halftime lead over their rivals the Windsor Lancers. The Gee-Gees defence continued to stop the Lancers in the second half, allowing the team to enjoy the second half en route to an 89-40 victory on March 3.
Ottawa had defeated Windsor, the reigning national champions, in the regular season: the first victory of a 15-game win streak which ran from November 18-January 28. The Gee-Gees posted a 19-3 regular season record, setting what was then the team record for wins in a season. The Gee-Gees led the conference in points allowed with an average of just 51.1 points against. Ottawa also led the league in three-point percentage (37.5) and were second in OUA with 72.2 points per game.
The playoffs featured an 89-53 victory over Ryerson in the quarterfinals and a 63-49 win over Brock in the league semifinal. The win was Ottawa's second OUA Championship in team history with the first coming in 2003-04, also on home court.
The team featured Hannah Sunley-Paisley who was named the National Player of the Year after leading OUA in scoring with 18.5 points per game, and Bess Lennox who set the OUA record for career rebounds and was named the OUA East Defensive Player of the Year. Point guard Kellie Ring was named the OUA East Rookie of the Year, and head coach Andy Sparks won the OUA East Coach of the Year award. Sharp-shooting forward Jenna Gilbert, along with Sunley-Paisley and Lennox, was named an OUA All-Star.
The team went on to win the national bronze medal, achieving a program-best result at the national championships held in Calgary.
RECAP : Gee-Gees dominate rivals Windsor, win OUA championship
For the third time in four years, uOttawa and Windsor's women's basketball teams met in the OUA championship game, with the provincial title on the line. In the 2009 championship game, Windsor won 68-51, while in 2010, the Gee-Gees were soundly defeated on home court, 83-55. On March 3, it was time for the Gee-Gees to return the favour, as Ottawa won their first OUA women's basketball title since the 2003-04 season. And the Gee-Gees won in an unexpected 89-40 blowout as uOttawa dominated their rivals in every facet of the game.
Ottawa was ranked sixth in the CIS coming into the game, while Windsor was ranked second. Windsor, the defending CIS champions, will have one last chance to qualify for the CIS Final 8, via the CIS regionals.
"We've had a couple of good starts like that this year. But I think this is the first time we've maintained what we started. We played 40 minutes of solid basketball with everybody contributing, and there was no one player that was the dominant player," said Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks. "It was definitely a team contribution. It's what we've been looking for."
Rookie point guard Kellie Ring (Ottawa, Ont.) helped the Gee-Gees get off to a quick start as she scored on Ottawa's first two offensive possessions. After fifth-year centre Hannah Sunley-Paisley (Toronto, Ont.) scored to stretch the lead to 6-0, Windsor was forced to take a timeout, less than three minutes into the match. But the Gee-Gees' run did not stop there as fourth-year forward Jenna Gilbert (Ottawa, Ont.) and fifth-year forward Bess Lennox (Ottawa, Ont.) hit back-to-back treys to stretch the lead to 12-0. After Windsor finally responded with a three-point play, Gilbert scored five more points, including another three-pointer. The six-foot-tall forward hit three treys in the first quarter alone, as Ottawa took a 28-12 lead after one.
Ottawa's dominant start continued into the second quarter, as the Gee-Gees stretched the lead to 23 points midway through the frame. With Sunley-Paisley on the bench, Lennox and fifth-year guard Teddi Firmi (Kitchener, Ont.) led the way for the Garnet and Grey on offence. The two crafty veterans made a big difference on the defensive end as well, and Windsor struggled to get good shot attempts. At halftime, the Gee-Gees held a commanding 46-16 lead, and limited Windsor to 15 per cent shooting from the field.
The Gee-Gees did not let up after the intermission, as Ottawa scored the first eight points of the third quarter, ending any hopes of a Windsor comeback. Another Gee-Gee three-pointer, this time by second-year guard Laura-Émilie Cyr (Montreal, Qué), increased Ottawa's cushion to 42 points late in the quarter.
uOttawa put the final touches on an OUA gold medal victory in the fourth quarter, with Ring providing a bulk of the offence. With the final result no longer in doubt, the Gee-Gees inserted some of their younger players into the game, and they performed just as well as their more experienced teammates. Fans at Montpetit Hall began to celebrate; the Gee-Gees had won their first championship banner of the 2011-12 varsity season.
"Going into Calgary, it's so good to know that my team can dominate with me on the bench. It was awesome to watch. To beat the reigning national champions like that, it makes me feel like we can go all the way," said Sunley-Paisley. "It's an awesome way to go out. The only thing better than this would be to win nationals."
The game will be available on Rogers Cable 22 tape delay, starting at 9 p.m. tomorrow night. Ottawa will now play host to the CIS East regionals, next weekend.