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On a mild Sunday afternoon in Sault Ste. Marie at the George Leach Centre the visiting Ottawa Gee-Gees Women’s Basketball team were playing the Algoma Thunderbirds in a hotly contested regular-season game.

The Thunderbirds were coming off of a tough loss against the Carleton Ravens on Friday night 78 to 57 whereas the Ottawa was rolling along with a victory over Guelph and are currently ranked 2nd in the country by U Sports (Nov. 5th Rankings).  

The first quarter was pretty even between the two teams with Ottawa having a slight lead at the end – the score was 18 to 14 in favour of Gee-Gees.  The second quarter started similar to the first where both teams played well especially in the defensive end of the floor.  However, the Gee-Gees started to generate some offence at 5:40 minute mark and went on an 8 to 4 run and extended their lead to 13 points. In the last three minutes of the quarter, the Thunderbirds clawed their way back and were only losing 38 to 29 at half time. 

The Algoma Thunderbirds came out in the third quarter and were a defensive juggernaut as Ottawa only scored 4 points in that quarter.  Combine that with the 15 points Algoma scored in the quarter and the Thunderbirds had the lead with the score 44 to 42 going into the fourth. But the Gee-Gees were not going to give up and battled hard throughout the last quarter. 

Ottawa was leading 54 to 50 with 2:03 minutes left in the game.  But the Thunderbirds who were still looking for their first win this regular season dug in deep and came back including a couple of three-pointers from Karly Fracalanza and Thais Matte to tie the game.  Matte’s three-pointer came with only 15 seconds left on the clock. Ottawa failed to score with their possession and the end of the regulation score was tied at 58 with overtime next. Ottawa didn’t want to go home with a loss and built up a lead of 63 to 59 largely by the play of Gee Gee player Angela Ribarich. 

However, with 3:45 minutes left in the overtime stanza, the Thunderbirds came back again this time with a three-point shot from Dionne Martin and four clutch free throws from Karly Fracalanza and Mercedes Ryan. Ottawa had the ball for one last play for the win but the Thunderbird defence which was solid all game (especially in the 2nd half) came up big and denied the Gee-Gees from getting the winning basket.  Fittingly Karly Fracalanza came up with the defensive rebound had the ball when the final game buzzer sounded. Thunderbirds won with a score of 66 to 65.  Karly Fracalanza was the top scorer for the game and the Thunderbirds with 29 points.  Dionne Martin had 12 points and Ayaka Nakashima had 10 points for Algoma.  Top scorer for Ottawa was Brigette Lefebvre-Okankwu.

Head Coach of Thunderbird Women’s Basketball Ryan Vetrie said: “A great team win today (Sunday). Multiple players stepped up and made big plays. It came down to making some stops and it happened. Very proud of the group of how we responded from Friday night. We have to be consistent moving forward and this will definitely be a reference point of how we can play.” 

On Friday night the Algoma Thunderbird Women’s team played host to the Carleton Ravens.  The Thunderbirds had a slow start in the first quarter and were outscored 26 to 13.  The team played well for the remainder of the game but could not dig themselves out of the early deficit.  Carleton won the game 78 to 57.  Top scorer for Algoma was Thais Matte with 18 points who was 4 of 5 from the three-point line.   Karly Fracalanza had 10 points and Sawyer Fischer had 8.  Top scorer of the game and Carleton was Marlee Ball who is a former Thunderbird player.

The Algoma Women’s basketball team is back in action again this weekend at home when they host the visiting Windsor Lancers in a pair of important West Region games.   The games are Friday night at 6 pm and Saturday night at 4 pm at the George Leach Centre.  All games are open to the public and will be web-streamed FREE on YARE OUA tv in partnership with SaultSports.com (Jay Houselander):

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