WATERLOO, Ont. (February 28, 2015) - The No. 6 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks women’s basketball team had their season come to an abrupt end on Saturday afternoon as they lost a double overtime thriller 85-78 to the Queen’s Gaels in the OUA Quarter-finals at the Athletic Complex.
Laurier, who entered the post-season as the second seed in the OUA following an impressive 17-3 season, had three chances to win the game in regulation and first overtime period before the seventh-seeded Gaels eventually earned the victory and a spot in the OUA Final Four tournament.
“It was a crazy basketball game,” said head coach Paul Falco following the contest. “It was a game of runs in a lot of ways; we got up, we got down but we found a way to get back in it when we were in trouble in the fourth [quarter] and in overtime. We knew Queen’s was going to be a tough match. They’re experienced and they’re well balanced and they played a heck of a game. I was proud of the way our girls battled and we just didn’t get the breaks when we needed them.”
“I think it was an up-and-down game. It was something that we expected. We knew Queen’s wasn’t going to just walk in here and let us take the game,” added fifth year guard Lee Anna Osei of Toronto. “I think my team battled so hard, I’m so proud of the girls. From the beginning of the year, we talked about that being a key, everybody being a contributor. I feel like everybody played with so much heart today so I’m so proud of my team.”
Leading the way for Queen’s was Jenny Wright of Kingston, Ont. The fourth year guard poured in a game-high 24 points, including five in overtime, and added six rebounds in the contest.
Four other Gaels also finished in double figures including forward Robyn Pearson of Toronto, who had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.
For Laurier, Whitney Ellenor of Pickering, Ont., was once again the team’s scoring leader as she posted a double-double in her final game with the purple and gold. The fifth year forward had 21 points and 12 rebounds despite being double-teamed for much of the night.
Meeting for the first time ever in OUA postseason play, the Hawks and Gaels put on a show for the large crowd at the Athletic Complex. Laurier took control of the contest early as twice they build up 14-point leads, only to see the Gaels rally on each occasion.
The second rally by the Gaels may have been the turning point in the game as midway through the third quarter, the purple and gold held a 49-35. However, a key timeout by the Gaels coaching staff got the team to respond and they closed the third quarter on a 20-2 run to take a four-point lead into the fourth.
Queen’s built the lead up to six early in the final frame of regulation but the Hawks did not falter. They rallied themselves and brought the game even at 67. In the dying seconds of the fourth, Laurier got a turnover and Morrison had a shot to win the game but her three-point attempt came up short, sending the contest into overtime.
The two teams went back and forth in the first overtime period keeping the fans on the edge of their seats. Late in the period, after Ellenor had tied the game at 74, the Hawks got another turnover on an inbounds play by Queen’s. With 2.2 seconds left, Laurier got the ball to Kaitlyn Schecnk of Kitchener, Ont., in the corner but her three-pointer rimmed out, sending the game to double overtime.
Queen’s, despite having played on Wednesday, looked to be the fresher of the two teams in double overtime and it played out on the scoreboard. They opened the frame on an 8-0 run and Laurier could not recover as Queen’s came away with the win.
For the Hawks, the loss ends what has been an historic season for Coach Falco and his squad. Laurier set new team records for most consecutive wins, most wins in a season and highest-ever Top 10 ranking for the program.
“I think it’s difficult now but when we look back in a couple of weeks, we’ll realize that it was a heck of a year,” commented Falco when asked to reflect on the season. “We did some great things and we played consistently throughout the season. I know we had a couple of losses here and there, but not a lot, and anytime we had a loss we bounced back. So it’s a credit to the girls, they gave us everything we asked and now we have to deal with the off-season.”
The defeat also ends the careers of three very good players for Laurier as Ellenor, Osei and Jacobs all had their time with the purple and gold come to an end on Saturday.
“I feel like when I came to Laurier, I wasn’t even expecting to play on the team,” said Osei when asked to look back on her time as a Golden Hawk. “Coach Falco was kind enough to reach out to me and he really gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to get accepted into this type of athletic community. It really is just a tight-knit family. Everybody knows everybody in athletics and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play as a Laurier Golden Hawk.”