York Lions women’s basketball team takes first spot in OUA East

It was a night of cheers and tears as the York Lions women’s basketball team beat the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 73-70 in a thrilling battle for first place in the OUA East Division on Staff, Faculty & Alumni Night Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Tait McKenzie Centre.

After halftime, the short-handed Lions (15-3) held on to beat the hard-charging Blues (14-4) in a nail-biting finish.

Trailing by 22 after the third quarter, the Blues narrowed the deficit to just two with less than a minute left, but could not quite undo all the damage before a packed house at York in the Lions home finale.

Cortney Fuller and Brenan Rurak played huge roles for York. Fuller tied a season high with 18 points and also had nine rebounds. Rurak scored 14 points before fouling out.

Right: York Lions women’s basketball team grabs top spot in OUA East against University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Photo by Rita Abiog.

Rookie guard Brittany Szockyj, pressed into starting duty to replace injured star Laura MacCallum, delivered a gutsy effort, playing almost the entire game before fouling out late in regulation with six points, five rebounds and four assists. Szockyj was one of three rookies, along with Tamara Vasic and Nikki Cecchini, to play strong, major minutes against the veteran Blues.

The Lions came out to a strong start, leading by as much as 11 points before the Blues managed to score a basket.

Both teams played aggressive defence, keeping the game at a fast-pace. The Lions led 32-20 at halftime.

As the third quarter got underway, the Lions showed no signs of fatigue, slowly pulling away from the Blues with the score. In the final minutes of the quarter, Cecchini gained possession of the ball off a turnover and took it down the court, scoring a nice lay-up for York. The Lions were able to take a comfortable 58-36 lead into the fourth quarter.

But the Blues refused to give up, cutting down the lead to just two points with outstanding pressure defence. Toronto’s comeback, however, fell short, giving York the victory.

Emily Van Hoof, who missed the past two games with a leg injury, scored 15 points for York, while Christine Cho led U of T with 22.

The Lions conclude the season with four road games, beginning next Friday, Feb. 1, in Kingston, Ont., against the RMC Paladins.

For the schedule of upcoming games, click here.

Submitted to YFile by Alessia Cianni, sport information assistant.