Queen’s Gaels, Carleton Ravens to battle for national women’s basketball title

Laura Donovan had a game-high 21 points to lead the third-ranked Queen’s Gaels to a 72-62 victory over the second-ranked Alberta Pandas in the first semifinal of the U Sports 2023 Women’s Final 8 on Saturday in Sydney, NS.

Donovan made six of 10 3-pointers en route to leading the Gaels to the championship game.

And in the second semifinal, Kali Pokrnic scored a game-high 17 points to lead the top-seeded Carleton Ravens to a 65-46 victory over the No. 4-ranked Saint Mary’s Huskies.

Pokrnik shot six-for-15 from the field and played a game-high 35 minutes while leading the Ravens to the championship final.

Watch live coverage of the women’s tournament on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem. Coverage continues Sunday at 11 a.m. ET as Acadia faces Calgary in the consolation final.

The Pandas came out strong early on, drawing first blood and never looked back. They led 11-2, but a Queen’s timeout and rebound rallied 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 saw more turnovers as the two teams combined for 15 in the first 20 minutes. A 53 percent shooting performance for the Pandas in the first half gave them a 34-30 lead at the break.

The turnover problem continued into the third quarter as both teams struggled to penetrate. The tide turned in the Gaels’ favor as they nailed it and finally took their first lead of the game with 3:16 left. Donovan hit two big 3-pointers to extend Quinn’s lead to six, and the Gaels trailed 51-48 after three quarters.

The Gaels didn’t waver in the fourth quarter, holding their lead for the entire 10 minutes. Alberta’s first successful 3-pointer went through the hoop with four minutes remaining, while Queen’s made eight in the second half alone.

Donovan was the player of the game for the Gaels, finishing 60 percent from beyond the arc with 21 points. Bridget Mulholland had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Julia Chadwick posted a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Emma Curry earned player of the game honors for Alberta, finishing with 15 points and four rebounds. Jenna Harpe also had 15 points, adding five assists, while Claire Signatovich had 15 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

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U Sports Women’s National Basketball Championship: Semifinal #1

Watch the Queen’s Gaels take on the Alberta Pandas in the semifinals of the U Sports Women’s Basketball National Championship from Sydney, NS

As in the first semifinal, the Ravens and Huskies traded turnovers in the first quarter. Both sides struggled to get into a rhythm, resulting in a 13-13 deadlock after the opening frame.

SMU’s Clara Gascoigne went down around the eight minute mark and didn’t return, hampering the Huskies the rest of the way. Pocrnic had eight points in the second and the Ravens extended their lead by as many as 10 before eventually taking a 36-26 halftime lead.

Carleton came out swinging in the third and kept the Huskies at bay throughout the quarter. The Ravens, with a stout defense and a 17-point lead, completely dominated the Huskies. With their sights set on the league final, the top seed went into the final 10 minutes 53-36. Carleton held the Huskies to 13 or less in each quarter of the game and capped it off with the win.

Pokrnic took home the man of the game for Carleton, scoring 17 points and adding seven dimes to his tally. Kyana Jade Poulin had three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points and five rebounds, while Dorcas Buisa was effective with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Sophia Widmeyer earned player of the game honors for Saint Mary’s, scoring 16 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies. Courtney Donaldson and Sarah Forgie each had six points off the bench in the loss.

Saint Mary’s will play the Alberta Pandas for bronze on Sunday afternoon.

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