SYDNEY, N.S. (U SPORTS) - Laura Donovan scored a game-high 21 points to lead the No. 3 seed Queen’s Gaels to a 72-62 win over the No. 2 Alberta Pandas in the first semi-final of the 2023 Protocase Women’s Final 8, presented by Bell, at the Sullivan Field House in Sydney on Saturday. Donovan made six of 10 three-pointers en route to leading the Gaels to the championship game.
The Pandas came out strong early, drawing first blood and not looking back. They jumped out to an 11-2 lead, but a timeout and reset for Queen’s composed the Gaels and turned the game around. Queen’s tied the game at 13 before Alberta hit a free throw to take a 14-13 lead after the first. The second quarter featured more turnovers, as the two teams combined for 15 in the opening 20 minutes. A 53 per cent shooting performance for the Pandas in the first half gave them a 34-30 lead at the break.
The turnover problem continued through the third quarter as both teams struggled to penetrate. The tide shifted in the Gaels’ favour as they clawed back and eventually found their first lead of the game with 3:16 to go. Donovan hit two big three-pointers to extend Queen’s lead to six, and the Gaels saw themselves up 51-48 after three quarters.
The Gaels did not waver in the fourth quarter, holding their lead for all ten minutes. Alberta’s first successful three-pointer went through the hoop with four minutes remaining, while Queen’s made eight in the second half alone. The Gaels cleaned up the turnovers and did their job on both ends, closing this game out with a 72-62 win.
Donovan was the player of the game for the Gaels, finishing 60 per cent from beyond the arc with 21 points. Bridget Mulholland added a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Julia Chadwick added a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double herself for Queen’s.
Emma Kary earned player of the game honours for Alberta, finishing with 15 points and four rebounds. Jenna Harpe also had 15 points, adding five assists, while Claire Signatovich pitched in 15 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.
The win places the Gaels in Sunday’s championship final, where they await the winner of the Carleton-Saint Mary’s game. Tip-off for the final is set for 6 p.m. (all times Atlantic) on Sunday. Alberta will await the loser of the second semi-final for a bronze medal matchup on Sunday at 3 p.m. All games at the championship can be seen on CBC Sports digital platforms (English) and at usports.ca (French).