Women’s Lions win Ontario basketball championship

For the first time since 1981-1982, the York Lions are Ontario University Athletics champions in women’s basketball. With an 87-79 win over the second-ranked McMaster Marauders on March 4, the fifth-ranked Lions claimed OUA supremacy in a thrilling victory at Burridge Gym in Hamilton.

Left: York’s women’s basketball Lions celebrate their victory in Hamilton on Sunday

Busloads of York supporters helped rally the Lions, who pulled out the victory in the fourth quarter. Kim Gibbs was named MVP after scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Both were season-highs for the co-captain who also added five assists and shot 57 per cent on the night (8-of-14).

The Lions will now face the host Memorial University Sea-Hawks March 9 in the opening game of the 2007 Canadian Interuniversity National Championship in St. John’s, Nfld. The third-seeded Lions will face the sixth-seeded Sea-Hawks at 8pm (6:30pm Eastern).

York’s Laura MacCallum had a team-high 25 points, pulled down four rebounds and sank 13-of-14 free throws in the win, while Elspeth Cheng pitched in with a season-high 18 points. Fifth-year Lion Sarah Brodie grabbed a team and season-high 13 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive end. She also had 12 points for her fourth double-double of the season.

The OUA women’s basketball title is the second for York in the program’s history.

York is making its second-straight trip to the CIS National Championship and the program’s fourth overall appearance. At last year’s championship, the Lions won the consolation title after defeating the top-seeded Saskatchewan Huskies (68-60) in the fifth place game. This season marks the 10th anniversary of York’s best-ever showing at the national finals. In 1996-1997, the team finished second, winning silver after a 73-52 loss to Manitoba in the final.

Sunday’s win over McMaster in the OUA Championship was York’s 30th overall win this season. The Lions are 30-6 on the year and boast the nation’s longest active winning-streak, having won each of their past 18 games.

The host Sea-Hawks enter as Atlantic University Athletics Champions after defeating Dalhousie 68-43 on March 4. Memorial posted a 14-6 regular season record this year and is 2-0 in the playoffs. York has not faced the Sea-Hawks this season but is 3-1 against the other teams playing in the championship.

The Lions defeated Dalhousie and Laval in exhibition play and went 1-1 against McMaster, losing 70-53 in regular-season play before defeating the Marauders in the OUA championship.

Information on the seeding and schedule for this year’s CIS championship tournament are available on the Sport York Web site.