Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the week across Canada West, the OUA, RSEQ and the AUS.

Men’s basketball

Gee-Gees record third win in 13 Capital Hoops Classics, beating Ravens 68-67

The 13th edition of the annual Capital Hoops Classic, featuring the Ottawa Gee-Gees and crosstown rival Carleton Ravens facing off in a pair of high-profile OUA men’s and women’s basketball games, took place at The Arena at TD Place (home of the OHL’s Ottawa 67s) Friday, and it saw top-10 clashes on both the men’s and women’s sides. On the men’s side, the No. 6 Gee-Gees (15-4 heading into this) edged the No. 1 Ravens (19-0) 68-67 in front of 8,103 fans. The winning points came from a pair of key final-minute free throws from fifth-year guard Calvin Epistola:

Carleton then had several final chances to get back in front, but couldn’t get a shot to fall:

Friday’s victory marked the Gee-Gees’ men’s team’s third win ever in the 13 editions of the Capital Hoops Classic; they previously won in 2007 and 2016. Guillaume Pépin led the way for Ottawa in this one with 15 points and six rebounds, while Epistola had 14 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Marlon Kordrostami, who made his first career three-pointer in the fourth quarter (with less than a second on the shot clock when he launched it), notched 12 points and had a game-high eight rebounds. Afterwards, Epistola said this was a career highlight for him:

"I felt good and I knew I had to put the squad on the back. We always knew we had the ability. TD [Place] did a great job. It was the best experience in my five years for sure."

Also in men’s basketball, the Canada West regular season wrapped up this weekend, and Friday and Saturday saw top-10 clashes, with the No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears hosting the No. 10 Saskatchewan Huskies. The Golden Bears won both of those games, posting 89-79 and 106-78 victories to extend their win streak to 14 games and lock up the conference title. Also in Canada West, the Calgary Dinos posted a pair of wins over the Mount Royal Cougars, winning 100-72 at home Thursday and 87-66 on the road Saturday.

In AUS play, the No. 2 Dalhousie Tigers beat the StFX X-Men 96-84 at home Wednesday and then beat the Cape Breton Capers 83-68 Sunday in a four-point game. In other OUA play, the No. 5 Lakehead Thunderwolves had a tough weekend road trip, losing 91-80 to the Western Mustangs Friday and 92-85 to the Windsor Lancers Saturday. And in RSEQ play, conference-leading McGill posted a pair of wins against the Bishop’s Gaiters, winning 83-58 at home Thursday and 73-68 on the road Saturday.

Women’s basketball

No. 2 Gee-Gees come back to beat No. 9 Ravens 77-75

In the first game of the Capital Hoops Classic Friday night, the No. 2 Gee-Gees women’s team took on the No. 9 Ravens and emerged with a 77-75 victory despite falling behind early. Ottawa trailed 18-12 after the first quarter, 40-37 at the half (despite briefly taking a second-quarter lead) and 64-59 after the third quarter, but managed to outscore Carleton 18-11 in the final frame. The Gee-Gees’ second lead of the game came inside the final three minutes on a layup from Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus, their leading scorer this season, and they then sealed the deal thanks to Angela Ribarich hitting a basket and converting the and-one foul shot. Ribarich scored a game-high 24 points on the night, tying a career-high.

This marked the Gee-Gees’ women’s team’s second-straight Capital Hoops Classic victory, but their fifth overall in the 13 times the game has been played. Ribarich said afterwards that this was a special experience, and a thrill to beat the Ravens.

 "It was wild. It was one of those games that was once-in-a-lifetime. It's an amazing feeling to come away from it with a win. They're a really good team, Carleton, there's a ton of respect between us as much as it's a rivalry."

In other Ottawa highlights, McAlear-Fanus had 12 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds, while Tyra Blizzard added 14 points and five rebounds. For Carleton, Madison Reid led the way with 21 points. And the Ottawa crowd in attendance was thrilled with the results, including Gee-Gees’ men’s hockey coach Patrick Grandmaître:

Also in women’s basketball, the Canada West regular season wrapped up this weekend and saw a notable upset along the way, with the Alberta Pandas taking down the No. 1 Saskatchewan Huskies 78-71 at home Friday. (Saskatchewan won the rematch 82-73 Saturday.) In other Canada West action, the No. 3 Calgary Dinos posted a pair of wins against the Mount Royal Cougars, winning 71-54 at home Thursday and 74-58 Saturday (with that latter win giving them the first overall seed in the Canada West playoffs).

In OUA play, the No. 4 Ryerson Rams beat the Guelph Gryphons 87-55 on the road Wednesday and took down the Algoma Thunderbirds 84-63 on the road Sunday. Also in OUA play, the No. 5 Western Mustangs had a successful homestand, beating the Lakehead Thunderwolves 78-73 Friday and edging the York Lions 76-71 in overtime Saturday.

In RSEQ play, the No. 6 Laval Rouge et Or fell 66-51 at home to the Concordia Stingers Thursday, but bounced back with a 68-60 road win over Concordia Saturday. In AUS play, the conference-leading Acadia Axewomen posted a pair of road wins in four-point games this week, beating the Saint Mary’s Huskies 87-68 Wednesday and edging the UPEI Panthers 78-70 Saturday.

The U SPORTS-wide Shoot For The Cure cancer research fundraising campaign continues, with all 48 U SPORTS women’s basketball programs taking part and over $87,000 of the $100,000 goal for this year raised so far. Teams holding Shoot For The Cure games this weekend included the Algoma Thunderbirds, the Windsor Lancers, the Mount Royal Cougars and the Bishop’s Gaiters.

With this being the centennial year of Canadian university women’s basketball, a panel of U SPORTS coaches and partners has selected the top 100 women’s basketball players of that century. The top players who competed in 1980 and earlier have already been unveiled, with subsequent selections from the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s to be rolled out over the next four weeks in the run-up to the 2020 U SPORTS Final 8 Basketball Championships in Ottawa.

Men’s hockey

Gaels beat Paladins 4-2 before Carr-Harris Cup record crowd of 4,121

Hockey’s oldest rivalry took centre stage in Kingston again this week, with the Queen’s Gaels taking down the crosstown RMC Paladins 4-2 Thursday in the 34th Carr-Harris Cup. That win took place in front of an event-record crowd of 4,121 at the Leon's Centre, home of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, and Queen’s head coach Brett Gibson credited the environment for some of that success.

Luke Edwards put Queen’s up 1-0 in the second, firing home a rebound from a shot by Jared Bethune, and Edwards then set up Bethune to put the Gaels up 2-0. In the third period, Marshall Skapski scored to bring RMC within one, and Rhett Wilcox then tied the game. But Queen’s rookie defenceman Brandon Schuldhaus then picked a great time to score his first career OUA goal, which would prove to be the winner:

Josh Curtis then added an empty-netter for Queen’s, and the Gaels’ fans in attendance had a lot to celebrate when the final buzzer sounded:

Queen’s fell 4-0 at home to the Ottawa Gee-Gees in their final regular-season game Sunday, so the Gaels finished the season 12-13-1-2, seventh in the OUA East. They’ll play the second-seeded UQTR Patriotes in the best-of-three first round of the Queen’s Cup playoffs, with that series beginning Wednesday. The Carr-Harris Cup was the end of the regular-season for the Paladins, who finished eighth in the OUA East with a 9-18-1-0 mark and will face the top-seeded Carleton Ravens, with that series also beginning Wednesday.

In the OUA West, the No. 8 Guelph Gryphons beat the No. 5 University of Toronto Varsity Blues 4-3 at home Friday in their regular-season finale. Toronto finished on top of the division and will play the Western Mustangs in the first round, while Guelph finished third and will face the Laurier Golden Hawks. Those series are also best-of-three and also begin Wednesday.


Axemen win first AUS title since 1981, Tigers claim 19th straight women’s AUS title

 The AUS swimming championships took place this weekend in Halifax, hosted by the Dalhousie Tigers. Both the men’s and women’s sides saw history made, but from different approaches; the Acadia Axemen won their first conference title in 38 years on the men’s side, posting 1034 points to second-place Dalhousie’s 734, while the host Tigers won their 19th consecutive women’s title, recording 1043.5 points to second-place Acadia’s 677.

Some standouts for the Acadia men included Dean Sangster (named the male rookie of the meet) and Brett Liem (named the male swimmer of the meet). On the final day of the competition, Sangster won the 200m backstroke, Liem won the 100m freestyle, and they teamed up with Andre Walcott and Shane Kenny to set a conference record in the 4x100m medley relay.

Top performers for the Dalhousie women included Isabel Sarty, Reagan Crowell and Abbey Corish. Sarty set an AUS record in the final of the 100m freestyle Sunday, breaking a record she set in heats earlier in the day, and was named the female swimmer of the meet. Crowell earned gold in the 800m freestyle, while Corish won the 50m breaststroke.

The OUA swimming championships were also held this weekend, hosted by the McMaster Marauders at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. There, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues swept the men’s and women’s titles for the seventh-straight season.

Women’s volleyball

No. 9 WolfPack earn a five-set road win against No. 8 Griffins

A Top 10 clash in Canada West women’s volleyball this week got off to a good start for the No. 9 Thompson Rivers WolfPack, who edged the No. 8 MacEwan Griffins in five sets (17-25,23-25,25-22,26-24,15-13) on the road Friday. A stellar defensive performance helped there, as the WolfPack posted 106 digs in that match, the fourth-highest number in Canada West history. (Oddly enough, the record is 141, set by the Winnipeg Wesmen in a five-set loss to MacEwan last month; the Griffins had 139 in that match.)

Olga Savenchuk led Thompson Rivers Friday with 15 kills and 20 digs, while Kseniya Kocyigit had 11 kills, five aces and four blocks. On Saturday, though, MacEwan took the rematch in straight sets, winning 25-20,25-22, 25-19.

There was also a Top 10 clash in OUA women’s volleyball this weekend, with the No. 7 Brock Badgers hosting the No. 10 Waterloo Warriors Friday. Brock won that one (a match honouring their senior players Laura Condotta, Darby Taylor and Morgan Monkman) in straight sets, winning 25-17, 25-7, 25-22. Condotta posted a team-high 14 kills and added six digs, while Taylor had nine kills and two digs and Monkman had four kills and seven digs. The Badgers then followed that up with a five-set (20-25, 26-24, 16-25, 27-25, 15-13) road win against the Guelph Gryphons Saturday.

Social media posts of the week:

The AUS curling championships were hosted by the Saint Mary’s Huskies in Halifax this weekend, and the Dalhousie Tigers swept the men’s and women’s titles:

In women’s soccer, the Canadian senior national team qualified for the Tokyo Olympics (their fourth consecutive trip to the Olympic Games) with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in the 2020 Concacaf Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinals Friday. Canada then fell 3-0 to the U.S. in the tournament final Sunday, but both teams will advance to Tokyo. Manitoba Bisons’ alum Desiree Scott played a full 90 minutes for Canada in both of those matches.

In women’s basketball, the Canadian senior national team also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with an 80-50 win over Sweden Saturday. That team has lots of U SPORTS connections, including head coach Lisa Thomaidis (also the head coach of the Saskatchewan Huskies’ women’s team and point guard Miah-Marie Langlois (a Windsor Lancers’ alum). Canada then beat Japan 70-68 Sunday to complete the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record.

In women’s hockey, the Canadian and U.S. national women’s hockey teams faced off in a three-game rivalry series this week. Canada won the first game 3-2 in overtime in Victoria Tuesday, but the U.S. won 3-1 in Vancouver Thursday and 4-3 in overtime in Anaheim Saturday. Manitoba Bisons’ alum Brigette Lacquette scored the tying goal for Canada Tuesday, and McGill Martlets’ alum Mélodie Daoust had one of the Canadian goals Saturday.

Also in women’s hockey, the 20th anniversary of the Scotiabank Hockey Day In Canada celebrations took place Saturday, hosted from Yellowknife, and McGill Martlets’ alum Ann-Sophie Bettez represented the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association alongside Jamie-Lee Rattray:

In men’s wrestling, Brock Badgers’ alum Jevon Balfour beat Jasmit Phulka 11-0 and 6-5 in a wrestle-off Saturday to earn a berth in the upcoming Pan-American Olympic Qualifier in the 74 kg class:

And Concordia alum Salim Valji, who was chosen for the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Young Reporters’ Programme in 2017 to cover the Summer Universiade in Taiwan, spoke about that experience in a FISU.net article this week. He also tweeted about what that meant to him:

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Andrew has been covering university sports in Canada since 2005 at outlets such as The Queen's Journal, The CIS Blog, and Yahoo Canada, where he also served as the editor of the Canadian football blog 55-Yard Line. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Queen's University with a major in history, and currently works as a staff writer and editor for Awful Announcing and The Comeback.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewBucholtz