The OUA’s best battle for the Critelli Cup

TORONTO, ON – The OUA playoffs weren’t filled with many surprises, with most of the higher seeds winning each matchup. Now, we’re left with the top two seeds, the Queen’s Gaels and Carleton Ravens, in the 2023 Critelli Cup. The best two teams all season are the last two left, and after splitting their season series, the rubber match has the highest stakes of them all. A champion will be crowned in the Queen’s ARC at 7 pm on Saturday.

The Gaels come in as the top seed in the OUA and at the top of the latest U SPORTS Top 10. They finished the regular season with a record of 21-1 and defeated the Brock Badgers in the quarterfinal and Waterloo Warriors in the semis to make it here. Throughout the season, Queen’s showed themselves as one of the best teams in the league, holding onto the top spot in the division with the highest winning percentage and going into playoffs two games ahead of the second seed. Their level of execution was a step ahead of their opponents, and they strategically dissected the weakness of the team they went against, leading them to close out tight games and put away decided games. 

Behind the play of Julia Chadwick, who averaged a double-double, and Emma Weltz, who was one of the most efficient shooters in the OUA at 50.3 percent from the field, the Gaels used balanced and complementary play to ride their way to the best record and home court advantage in the Critelli Cup.

Their opponent is the one team they lost to during the season, the Carleton Ravens. Carleton has a fast-paced and versatile offence led by all-star guard Kali Pocrnic that finished 19-3 in the regular season. They have a wealth of shooters from Kali to Dorcas Buisa to Kyana Jade Poulin, and they have two post players who dominate the glass and defend the rim in Jacqueline Urban and Emma Kiesekamp.

Jacqueline Urban set program records in her OUA rookie of the year rookie season for the Ravens, and averaged 10.8 rebounds per game, using her basketball IQ to end up in the right places at the right times. Paired with her, Emma Kiesekamp showed herself as one of the best paint defenders as the season went on, and when she locked it down inside, the Ravens were tough to beat.

Jacqueline Urban takes a three for Carleton (Richard Coffey/49 Sports)

Whether it was getting blocks, rebounds or creating space offensively for attacks at the rim by the fast guards, saying Emma was pivotal to the Ravens’ success would be an understatement, and she will have a matchup in the Critelli Cup with an essential piece to the Gael’s success, Bridget Mulholland. Bridget was awarded the Tracy MacLeod award from the OUA, and she is one of several award winners and all-stars in this matchup. 

Bridget Mullholland (Robin Kasem/Queen’s Athletics)

The OUA Coach of the Year Claire Meadows will look to OUA First Team All-Star Julia Chadwick and Third Team All-Star Laura Donovan while First Team All-Star Kali Pocrnic heads Carleton, along with rookie of the year Jacqueline Urban and Third Team All-Star guard Dorcas Buisa. Isabella Gaudet of the Gaels was awarded OUA All-Rookie team to go with Jacqueline, and they round out this star-studded matchup for the OUA banner.

Some of the OUA’s brightest stars and the OUA’s top two teams are who’s left in the 2023 Critelli Cup playoffs, and tomorrow we decide who are the champions and who will go into the 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Basketball Final 8 with an added boost of momentum and confidence. The Critelli Cup takes place at the Queen’s ARC at 7 pm on Saturday and will be one not to miss.

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