Championships Women’s Final 8

McMaster’s Sarah Gates was named the winner of the Nan Copp Trophy as U SPORTS Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Wednesday night at the All-Canadian awards banquet held in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Other major award winners included Jacqueline Urban of Carleton University, who took home the Kathy Shields Award for Rookie of the Year, while Aliyah Fraser of STFX earned the Sylvia Sweeney Award for Student-Athlete Community Service. Alberta’s Claire Signatovich was awarded the Defensive Player of the Year, and Bridget Mulholland of Queen’s University won the Tracy Macleod Award for showcasing exemplary courage in overcoming adversity. Regina’s Dave Taylor was honoured with the Fox 40 Coach of the Year Award.

The 2023 Protocase U SPORTS women’s Final 8, presented by Bell gets underway Thursday at the Sullivan Fieldhouse on the campus of Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Games will be webcast live on CBC Gem and the CBC YouTube channel. Visit to learn more.

View the official championship website.

Nan Copp Trophy Outstanding Player of the Year: Sarah Gates, McMaster

Sarah Gates, a fifth-year guard from Newmarket, Ontario, has been an impact player in the OUA over the past two seasons. She was named an OUA First Team All-Star and a U SPORTS 2nd Team All-Canadian in 2021-22. As the 2022-23 OUA Most Valuable Player, Gates becomes the first McMaster player to receive the recognition in six years.
The Marauders' veteran led the conference in scoring, averaging 27.3 points per game, for a total of 600 points through 22 regular season games. The Newmarket local also ranks first in the OUA in field goals made (210), three-pointers (63) and made free throws (117). The senior shot 48.3% from the field and 38.7% from 3-point range during her average of 30 minutes on the court each contest. In addition, Gates recorded 7.8 rebounds per game, 43 assists, 30 steals and five blocks.
Nationally, Gates is the U SPORTS scoring leader and ranks first in the country in points per game, total field goals and made three-pointers.
The Marauders' playmaker is a key reason that McMaster ranks first in the conference in scoring offence (76.1 per game) and secured third place in the OUA.

The nominees included:

  • Haley McDonald, Acadia
  • Amaiquen Siciliano, Bishop’s
  • Carly Ahlstrom, Saskatchewan

Kathy Shields Award – Rookie of the Year: Jacqueline Urban, Carleton

From Ancaster, Ontario, Carleton rookie Jacqueline Urban finished the 2022-23 season second in the OUA in rebounds with 238 breaking the Ravens' single-season record previously held by Heather Lindsay. Urban’s powerful first season included an 18-rebound performance against Brock on December 2. Urban was third among Ravens with 594 minutes played while being second in team scoring with 219 points – second most in a single season by a Ravens rookie.

After playing for Team Ontario at the 2022 Canada Summer Games, Urban immediately impacted coach Dani Sinclair's Ravens. “For a freshman, there were countless times this year where she just understood when we needed a momentum shift and just willed our team to win,” said Sinclair. Earning the start in 21 of 22 games, Urban quickly established herself as a critical piece to a young Ravens team. Playing key minutes alongside veterans Kali Pocrnic and Emma Kiesekamp, Urban fit right into the Ravens' rotation playing 27.0 minutes per game while shooting just under 40% for the season.

During the 2022-23 regular season, the psychology student earned two Ravens' Athlete of the Week recognitions.

The nominees included:

  • Bianca Helmig, Acadia
  • Daniella Mbengo, McGill
  • Logan Reider, Saskatchewan

Sylvia Sweeney Award – Student-Athlete Community Service: Aliyah Fraser, STFX

From New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Aliyah Fraser of STFX finished the 2022-23 regular season averaging 12.3 points per game, a 75.4 free-throw percentage and a 40.2 three-point percentage. The five-foot-ten guard was also named U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian for the 2021-22 season.

Off the court, Fraser continues to make an immense impact on the New Glasgow and STFX communities. She serves as the diversity rep on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, volunteers with STFX's BLACC Society and is the student-athlete representative on the St. Francis Xavier University Racial Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Most notably, Fraser founded the STFX BIPOC Varsity Association, which aims to collect crucial data on the experiences of BIPOC student-athletes to address their needs better.

Last summer, she organized the first Up&Atom Sports and Science Camp in New Glasgow with a vision to bring the joy of sport and the wonders of science to the youth of her hometown. Fraser welcomed over 50 participants at no cost to the two-day camp and plans to continue this initiative in the coming years.

"Aliyah has been the face of X-Women Basketball for the past four years. In addition to excelling on the court, she has also been a stalwart in the classroom and in the community," says STFX head coach Matt Spencer. "I have been tremendously fortunate to have inherited such a standout student-athlete in my first year as X-Women head coach."

Fraser is the first X-Woman to take home this honour.

The nominees included:

  • Jessica Salanon, McGill
  • Arianne Soriano, McMaster
  • Shannon Majeau, MacEwan

Defensive Player of the Year: Claire Signatovich, Alberta

Alberta’s Claire Signatovich evoked fear across Canada West this season. The third-year forward led the conference in blocks-per-game and rebounds-per-game with 1.9 and 12.6, respectively.

The talented defensive player possesses a high basketball IQ, averaging 1.6 steals per game. Signatovich broke several school records this season, including career blocks (75), season blocks (38) and season offensive rebounds (94). In addition, her 13 double-doubles this season set a Pandas record and ties her for eighth in the conference books.

“Claire is an anchor of our team defence. Her ability to track rebounds, alter shots, and guard multiple positions make her a force on the defensive end of the floor,” said Scott Edwards, Head Coach of the Alberta Pandas. “She is one of the most gifted defenders we have ever coached. The combination of her athletic attributes, leadership, and competitiveness have been keys to our teams' success this season.”

Signatovich is also a two-time Academic All-Canadian in the Faculty of Engineering.

The nominees included:

  • Clara Gascoigne, Saint Mary’s
  • Deborah Aboagye, Bishop’s
  • Ariane Saumure, Western

Tracy Macleod Award – Courage Overcoming Adversity: Bridget Mulholland, Queen’s

Bridget Mulholland of Queen’s University has battled several injuries during her time with the Gaels. Yet, despite missing games due to injury, Mulholland remained committed to her team. A natural leader, Mulholland's optimism and leadership never wavered. 
"Bridget has faced incredible adversity during her time at Queen’s," said Head Coach Claire Meadows. "Through it all, her work ethic, perseverance and determination has not wavered. Although Bridget has had to work through many setbacks, her contribution to the Queen’s basketball program has been immense. Bridget is extremely deserving of this recognition and I’m very proud of her."

Last season, Mulholland helped Queen's earn a bronze medal on home court at the U SPORTS Final 8 women's basketball championship, and this season, she has played a critical role in helping the Gaels finish with their best regular season record in program history at 21-1. Queen's also finished atop the OUA East Division standings and is the No. 1 seed in the OUA Playoffs.

The nominees included:

  • Samantha Russell, Acadia
  • Amelie Rochon, McGill
  • Madeleine Tell, Regina

Fox 40 Coach of the Year: Dave Taylor, Regina

Regina’s Dave Taylor was named the Canada West Coach of the Year after guiding the Cougars to a 27-5 overall record and a 17-3 record in conference play. The Cougars earned Canada West's No. 2 seed in the postseason and were ranked in every U SPORTS Top 10 poll of the season, including spending a total of six weeks as the top-ranked team in the nation.

This year’s edition of the Cougars featured a U SPORTS All-Canadian (Jade Belmore) and two Canada West all-star selections (Belmore and Cara Misskey). In addition, Madeleine Tell was named the recipient of Canada West’s Courage Overcoming Adversity Award and will be the conference’s nominee for the Tracy MacLeod Award.

Now in his 17th season as the U of R's head coach, this marks the second time that Taylor has been named Canada West's Coach of the Year, as he also garnered that honour following the Cougars' 20-0 season in 2011-12. Taylor went on to be named the CIS Coach of the Year in 2012. The winningest coach in U of R program history, Taylor has amassed a sparkling 252-78 Canada West record during his time as head coach and is 59-30 with the Cougars in the playoffs.

The nominees included:

  • Matt Gamblin, UPEI
  • Dianna Ros, Bishop’s
  • Claire Meadows, Queen’s

2023 U SPORTS Women's Basketball All-Canadians 


Athlete University Pos Year Hometown Academic Program
Sarah Gates McMaster G 5 Newmarket, Ont. Human Behaviour
Carly Ahlstrom Saskatchewan G 4 Calgary, Alta. Kinesiology
Kyanna Giles Winnipeg G 5 Winnipeg, Man. Education
Haley McDonald Acadia G 5 Port Williams, N.S. Arts (M)
Amaiquen Siciliano Bishop’s G 4 Buenos Aires, Argentina Business


Athlete University Pos Year Hometown Academic Program
Jade Belmore Regina G 2 Regina, Sask. Kinesiology & Health Studies
Julia Chadwick Queen’s F 5 Ottawa, Ont. Arts & Science
Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu Ottawa F 5 Gatineau, Que. Science Mgmt (M)
Kiyara Letlow Cape Breton F 2 Toronto, Ont. Arts
Kali Pocrnic Carleton G 4 Oakville, Ont. Psychology


Athlete University Pos Hometown Academic Program
Jacqueline Urban Carleton G Ancaster, Ont. Psychology
Emily Capretta Western F Hamilton, Ont. King’s College
Bianca Helmig Acadia G Speyer, Germany Business
Logan Reider Saskatchewan G Saskatoon, Sask. Education
Louise Rouse Calgary F St. Albans, England Kinesiology