TORONTO, ON – The U SPORTS Top 10 Power Rankings for Women’s Basketball was released following Week Two of competition. Five OUA programs are featured in a highly contested top 10 early in the season. With the Saskatchewan Huskies coming in at number one with a record of 4-0, the defending National Champions have once again taken their spot at the top of the rankings while the Calgary Dinos fall to #2 with a record of 3-1. The UPEI Panthers, who finished 3rd at the 2020 National Championships, come in at #3 with a record of 6-0, while the Winnipeg Wesmen and Alberta Pandas place at #4 and #9. Here are the five OUA programs that have been placed in the Top 10 going into week three of the OUA season.
The Gee-Gees move up from fifth to fourth in the power rankings after week 2, mainly due to their dominating performance over the weekend. Following their two victories against the York Lions to start the season, Ottawa travelled to Oshawa to take on the Ridgebacks in a back-to-back, two games they handled very well. Ottawa won their first game against Ontario Tech 101-52, on the back of Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu, Ann Carr and Natsuki Szczokin. With their defensive and rebounding prowess, the Gee-Gees stifled the Ridgebacks holding them to just 18 points in the first half while using their depth to build their lead on the offensive side.
The Gee-Gees proved to be too much for the Ridgebacks to handle in their second game as well. With Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu putting up a spectacular 32 points and 14 rebounds and Natsuki Szczokin following it up with 24 of her own, the Gee-Gees powered their way to an 81-52 win and a 4-0 record. This ends uplifting them in the national power rankings going into their doubleheader against the Toronto Varsity Blues on November 26 and 27.
The Badgers moved up one spot to number five after their trip to Thunder Bay this past weekend. In two wins highlighted by the play of Sam Keltos and Mackenzie Robinson, the Badgers defeated the Lakehead Thunderwolves and improved to 4-0. The first win was by a score of 61-44, and the Badgers’ aggressiveness and size paid off for them throughout the game, eventually getting them on top. With Sam Keltos and Nicole Venhuizen getting 6 and 10 rebounds each, Brock controlled the paint and the 2nd chances, limiting Lakehead to six offensive rebounds. Without one of their top players in Sofia Lluch, the Badgers were able to play aggressively and keep the Thunderwolves away from making a run.
Their 2nd matchup was where Mackenzie Robinson shined. Brock won 70-50, and the fifth-year veteran shot 50% from the field for a game-high 21 points. Once again, the Badgers’ size was on display in the paint, limiting the Thunderbirds’ second chances, and their shots were falling as they grew their lead in the second half off of contributions from 10 different players. With the Badgers taking care of business going into their home matchup against Windsor, they hold the 5th spot in the Top 10 and look to only go up from here.
The Ravens didn’t play a game in week two, but their wins over Nipissing in week 1 earned them the 5th spot in week 1, now dropping to 7 with the Badgers and Gee-Gees improving. The Ravens look like a very deep squad this year. Their offence can come from any of their starters, and their bench can fill roles in good ways. They have the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks in a doubleheader at the Ravens Nest this weekend, and if they can continue to show their depth and get wins in a tough division, they should stay right where they’re at, if not move up because of other losses elsewhere.
The Rams travelled to Nipissing and took care of business. Just as they showed against Queen’s, the Rams have a lot of depth and are a fundamentally sound team. Under the direction of Carly Clarke, the Rams have always seemed to end up on top. With a 70-30 and 67-50 win under their belt and a 3-0 record, the Rams are right there with the Ottawa Gee-Gees and have a week to prepare two games against Ontario Tech on Wednesday the 24th and Saturday the 27th.
The Guelph Gryphons have proven to be a great all-around team, and their battle with the Marauders in week 2 proved that. Guelph split their series with McMaster, bringing both of them to a 3-1 record, but like many of the teams in the Top 10 this week, what sets them apart is their execution and depth.
Guelph showed that they could play both sides of the ball at a high level in both of their games. Whether it’s the shooting of Jula Colavecchia or MacKeely Shantz, the facilitation of Burke Bechard or Skyla Minaker, or the rebounding of Julia, MacKeely or Trinity, the Gryphons can attack opponents on multiple levels, and they are a team that doesn’t often beat themselves. Losing just one game, in which Sarah Gates scored 38 points for the Marauders to give them a 4 point edge, the Gryphons are still looking like a solid team in the OUA, and they have the Brock Badgers in a home and away series next week.
The OUA is very contested this year. With a couple of teams making their claim for the top spots early, the way the conferences are set up with the scheduling allows many teams to make a run at top seed, and the OUA is very interesting to follow along with. Whether the Gaels who fell out of the top 10 after Week 1 can make it back in or how the teams in now will shift is just two reasons to pay attention to the rankings throughout the season.
COVER PHOTO: GAR FITZGERALD/GRYPHONS ATHLETICS