Kingston, ON – Faith Hezekiah and Keylyn Filewich combined for 48 points, and the University of Winnipeg Wesmen defeated the host Queen’s Gaels 80-78 to advance to the National Championship Game.
The Wesmen had to overcome a raucous Kingston crowd of over 1,450 people to pull off the victory, which came down to the last second. Gaels star Sophie de Goede was unable to land a full-court prayer at the buzzer, ending Queen’s Cinderella run.
Winnipeg rode the performance of their star forward duo of Hezekiah and Filewich, who outperformed the Gaels’ excellent frontcourt duo of de Goede and Julia Chadwick. Hezekiah knocked down 5 of her 9 threes to go along with 10 rebounds, as her double-double earned her Player of the Game honours. Filewich knocked down 10 of her 14 field goal attempts and came just one rebound short of a double-double in her own right.
“We knew that they had a powerful inside presence,” said Hezekiah after the win. “We’re not going to back down from that. We weren’t going to let them beat us.”
The Gaels were led by 4th year guard Laura Donovan, who finished with a team-high 20 points, closely followed by 5th year guard Emma Ritcey, who finished with 19. The two veterans combined to shoot 9/16 from three-point range, and played a major role in keeping the Gaels in the game.
Queen’s made a 4th quarter push, spurred on by a loud hometown crowd, but in the end the Wesmen were able to hit just enough of their free throws to hold off the late charge. The win sees the team, who won three national championships in a row in the 90s, on the precipice of history yet again.
“This means a lot for the program,” said Winnipeg head coach Tanya McKenzie McKay after the win. “And I’m just so proud of the kids. They did exactly what they set out to do from the time we came together, and now we get our shot.”
That shot will come against an undefeated Rams squad who won their semi-final against Brock in equally tight fashion Saturday afternoon. The clash of styles will see Winnipeg’s dominant interior play go up against the Rams’ potent guard-led attack, and if Saturday’s games are anything to go by, is bound to be an instant classic.