Sydney, NS – The Queens University women’s basketball team is heading to their first national championship game after defeating the University of Alberta Pandas 72-62 in the U SPORTS Final 8 tournament at Sullivan Field House.
It was a one possession game, 63-60, with under three minutes left when OUA Head Coach of the Year Claire Meadows called a timeout for Queens.
Laura Donovan swished a 30 foot three-pointer out of the timeout to give the Gaels a six point lead and throw the dagger in the Pandas heart. The Gaels ended the game with 12 three-pointers versus just one for the Pandas.
OUA all-star Donovan had a big birthday performance, scoring a game-high 21 points for the Gaels.
The first half was controlled by Alberta, who used two transition baskets to sprout to an early 9-2 lead. Canadian West first team all star Emma Kary had six of her 15 points in the opening minutes.
The Pandas defense, led by U SPORTS Defensive Player of the Year Claire Signatovich, stalled the Gaels offence in the first quarter, rendering them scoreless for a four minute stretch.
Fifth-year guard Donovan knocked down one of her six triples in the game to settle Queens into the affair. Three different Gaels ended up hitting as many triples to account for 9 of their 13 first quarter points.
Queens continued to nip at the Pandas but Alberta looked more comfortable on offense, shooting 53.6 per cent in the first half. The Pandas only led 34-30 at the half, with Queens relying on their 12-0 advantage from the three-point line to keep the game within two possessions.
Fifth-year senior Kary picked up her third foul at the 6:45 mark of the third quarter and which forced head coach Scott Edwards to sit his star until the 2:05 mark.
In that time, the Gaels were able to break through the Pandas slim lead.
Isabella Gaudet hit a semi-transition three and Mikayla McFarlane followed with a layup and two free throws to give the Gaels their first lead of the game, 43-41.
Jenna Harpe was a bright spot for Alberta, especially on defence, where she racked up three blocks and two steals to go with her 15 points and five assists.
After one of the Gaels 12 three-pointers, Kary and Stignatovich scored the next eleven points to keep the Pandas afloat but a late comeback wasn’t meant to be.
Queens will face the winner of Carleton vs. SMU on Sunday March 12 at 5pm ET for a chance at a national championship.