Suspense and surprises from the U SPORTS WBB Final 8 Quarterfinals

Rams use barrage of threes to kick tournament off with a win

The Rams used their typically deadly long-range attack to take the win in the first game of this year’s U SPORTS Final 8 Tournament, defeating the UPEI Panthers, 80 – 49.

The Rams surged out to a 41-24 lead at the half on the back of 3rd year forward Rachel Farwell, who finished the game with 25 points, including 17 in the first half alone. The Rams closed the 1st half on a 20-2 run, as their aggressive defence forced plenty of turnovers and kept the Panthers uncomfortable.

“I’m happy that I was able to contribute a bunch today,” said Farwell after the game. “Credit to the team… we have so many threats on the floor that something’s bound to open up, and it was me today”.

The Panthers were unable to recover after the halftime break, playing without superstar guard Jenna Mae Ellsworth, as the Rams outscored UPEI in the 3rd quarter as well, and took care of business to close the game in the 4th. UPEI was led in the game by 2nd year guard Lauren Rainford, who finished with a team-high 12 points. 

The Rams used their best weapon all year, the three point shot, to lock down the victory Thursday afternoon in Kingston. The team shot 15/30 from three for the game, and for newly named U SPORTS Coach of the Year Carly Clarke, it was an encouraging sign.

“I don’t expect to be 50% the entire tournament”, joked Clarke after the win. “But I thought we shot the right ones, we moved the ball, we got a lot of spot-up shots, so… our offence moves the ball well and shares it.”

The 31-point victory was another impressive showing in what has been a year of them from the #1 seeded Rams, and serves as a loud exclamation that the path to the Bronze Baby trophy is going to run through the still undefeated squad from downtown Toronto.

Badgers hang on to set up Critelli Cup rematch

Coming off of their first loss of the season in the Critelli Cup Final against the Rams, the Brock Badgers got out to a hot start, and took a 43-29 lead into the half.

“I think it was super important,” said 1st year guard Madalyn Weinert when asked about the significance of the team’s fast start after. “We were able to prove ourselves that we could get it going…  After a little bit of at the end of the last game I think just coming into this game we wanted to settle down.”

Weinert was named the Badgers’ Player of the Game after she put up 18 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. She was matched by a standout performance from AUS MVP Jayda Veinot, who scored 23 points for Acadia.

The Badgers were buoyed by their depth in the game as well. The Brock reserves scored 24 points, compared to just 9 from their counterparts on the Axewomen.

The win sets up a rematch of the Critelli Cup final between the Rams and Badgers that took place in St Catharine’s last Saturday, and for the Badgers, who suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Rams, it just adds fuel to the fire.

“For sure it means a bit more,” said Weinert after the game. “It’s exciting to be able to play them again. It’s going to be a great game, and we’re all super excited to play again.”

Winnipeg cruises to semi-final berth

The Winnipeg Wesmen got out to an early lead and held out throughout an uneventful game, as they defeated the Laval Rouge et Or 81-67 in the first round of the U SPORTS Final 8.

Kyanna Giles led the way for Winnipeg, as she finished the game with 22 points and was named the player of the game for Winnipeg. Sabrine Khelifi had a strong game for Laval in the loss, as she still managed to put up 18 points on just 11 shots.

The Rouge et Or put up a last effort in the 4th quarter, as they cut in to the Winnipeg lead, but were not able to overcome a disastrous 1st quarter. Laval allowed the Wesmen to score 35 points in the 1st quarter alone, as the Wesmen shot 15 of 18 from the field in the opening frame. Giles scored 12 of her 22 in the 1st alone, including going 3/3 from three

The Wesmen advance to Saturday’s semifinal, where they take on the winner of Thursday’s last quarterfinal, the Queen’s Gaels.

Gaels ride raucous crowd to second round

The Queen’s Gaels turned the U SPORTS Final 8 on its head with a massive upset in the final game of Thursday’s first round, as they triumphed over the #2 seed Saskatchewan Huskies 62-55.

The Gaels starters all played at least 32 minutes, and were spurred on by an absolutely rambunctious crowd to secure the upset.

4th year guard Emma Weltz was named Player of the Game for the Gaels, as she finished with 16 points, while 4th year star forward Julia Chadwick finished with 19 points and 8 boards.

The story of the game was the electric atmosphere in Kingston, as the hometown fans showed up to cheer on their Gaels. The boisterous fans made their impact felt throughout the game, as Saskatchewan committed multiple shot clock violations, uncharacteristic for one of the best offences in the country.

“It’s like the 6th player on the team,” said Queen’s head coach Claire Meadows after the game. “I know that our players could feel it.”

While the noise in the building certainly played a role, the Gaels also did an excellent job of limiting the Huskies deep cast of supporting players. Saskatchewan’s star duo of Summer Masikewich and Carly Ahlstrom still combined for 44 points, but the rest of the tournament’s #2 seeded team scored just 11 altogether.

Even in spite of the big upset, however, Queen’s isn’t resting on their laurels. “It’s an unbelievable feeling, and we’re already so excited for the next one,” said Weltz after the win. “(We’re ready to) achieve our goal.”

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