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Lakehead’s women’s basketball team travels to Ottawa this Wednesday to take on the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the Critelli Cup OUA championship semi-final. The Thunderwolves head to the nation’s capital as underdogs—Ottawa is the #1 seed in the OUA East and the #2 team in the country according to the USPORTS national rankings. The Gee-Gees beat the York Lions, their quarter-final opponent, by 46 points.
“Ottawa U is the #2 team in the nation for a reason,” Thunderwolves head coach Jon Kreiner says. “They have tremendous size, shoot the ball better than anyone in the OUA, have one of the top defenses in the country, and they have one of the best point guards in the country.”
The Gee-Gees finished with the second-highest scoring offense in the province this year, but Lakehead finished right behind, only 2.5 points back. The Thunderwolves also averaged fewer turnovers and more steals than Ottawa, though the Gee-Gees have the better numbers on the boards.
Wednesday’s playoff game will be the second time the two squads face off this season, as Lakehead travelled to Montpetit Hall in mid November. The Thunderwolves lost that match by 28 points, but leading scorer and rebounding Leashja Grant was limited to 15 minutes of action. Lakehead reeled off an eight-game win streak following the loss.
“Our team has shown great resiliency,” Kreiner says. “We feel we can play with anyone, but Ottawa is a team that will make you pay for each & every mistake. We need to be at our best focus and stay composed for 40 minutes.”
The Thunderwolves will lean on the all-around play of senior forward Grant, as well as Karissa Kajorinne, who scored 20 points in the Thunderwolves quarter-final win over Guelph. Lakehead will also look to the outside shooting and quick hands of Nikki Ylagan, and the stat-stuffing play of Tiffany Reynolds. Reynolds tallied 14 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block in the win over the Gryphons.
Wednesday’s game presents another opportunity for the Thunderwolves to extend their season, and to topple another team in the national top ten. As Kreiner says, “we are looking forward to the challenge of playing one of the best.”
Special note: the Thunderwolves will be holding a playoff viewing party at the Outpost Campus Pub at Lakehead University on Wednesday night. The all-ages event begins at 5pm, with the game tipping off at 6pm. Food and drinks will be available for sale, including a special on wings.
Basketball games are available via webcast courtesy of OUA.tv