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(Photo Credit: Kha Vo)
(Photo Credit: Kha Vo)
PREVIEW: WBASK hosts Gaels in quarter-finals

WATERLOO, Ont. (February 27, 2015) - After putting together their best regular season in team history, the No. 6 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s basketball team opens the playoffs at home as they host the Queen’s Gaels in the OUA Quarter-finals on Saturday afternoon.

Tipoff at the Athletic Complex is set for 2 p.m. and tickets for the game can be purchased online at tickets.laurierathletics.com.

For the head coach PAUL FALCO’s squad, the 2014-15 season has been one to remember. The Hawks, last year’s OUA bronze medalists, set a new team mark for most consecutive wins with 12 en route to posting a 17-3 record, the most wins ever by Laurier women’s basketball team. The success vaulted the purple and gold up the CIS rankings during the regular season as they reached a new team-high of No. 5 in the country following their victory over the No. 1 Windsor Lancers in January.

The Hawks success has stemmed from their ability to play strong defence while presenting their opponents with a balanced offensive attack that is difficult to stop. During the regular season, Laurier held their opponents to just under 56 points per game, fourth best in the conference, while their offence hummed along at an impressive 71.5 points per game, also fourth best in the OUA.

Those numbers gave way to some strong individual performances throughout the year, none more impressive than that of Whitney Ellenor of Pickering, Ont. The fifth year forward set two new team records of her own for most rebounds in a season and most blocks in a season while her 318 points scored, an average of 15.9 per game, were the third most by a Golden Hawk in team history.

But the offence didn’t just flow through Ellenor as on many nights, a different player would step up and lead the team. Two others Hawks also finished the year averaging 10 or more points per game, including second year guard Nicole Morrison of Hamilton, at 12.4 and third year guard Kaitlyn Schenck of Kitchener, Ont., at 10.0. In total, seven players averaged over six points per game, highlighting the depth of the squad.

The Hawks opponent on Saturday, the Queen’s Gaels, enter the playoffs after an up-and-down season following their OUA silver medal-winning performance a year ago. The Gaels started the year 8-3 through their first 11 games but struggled down the stretch. Queen’s won just three of their final eight contests to finish the year with an 11-8 record, second best in the OUA East division.

As the seventh seed in the OUA, they opened the playoffs at home on Wednesday with an 80-52 win over the tenth seeded Laurentian Voyageurs. Veteran Liz Boag of Kingston, Ont., led the way for Queen’s as she poured in 19 points while second year guard Abby Dixon of North Vancouver, B.C., added 16.

For the second seeded Golden Hawks, this game marks the first time in their history that they have met the Gaels in the OUA playoffs. Playing in opposite divisions, prior to the OUA realignment this season, for most of their histories, these two teams have never advanced far enough in the same year to face each other with their seasons on the line.

However, if recent history shows anything, Saturday’s game will be hard-fought by both teams. In their last three regular season meetings, all three games have been decided by four points or less, with the purple and gold coming out on top each time. This year, the two teams met in Kingston with the Hawks coming away with a 56-53 victory. Ellenor was the Hawks leading scorer as she finished with 15 points and seven rebounds while Jenny Wright of Kingston, Ont., led Queen’s with 20 points.

The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the OUA Final Four tournament scheduled for March 6th and 7th. The tournament to decide the conference champion will be hosted by the highest remaining seed following the quarter-final games.

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