The Ontario University Athletics women’s basketball season tips off on Wednesday in three different locations, including McMaster’s Burridge Gymnasium where the Marauders begin defense of their 2007-08 championship.
The Marauders have won two of the last three OUA titles, and have two-time West Division Most Valuable Player Lindsay
Degroot (Thedford) returning for her fifth and final season. She finished third in the OUA last season with 415 points, including a 45.8 field goal percentage. Degroot also led the Marauders in rebounding with 171 boards.
She is joined by fourth-year guard Taylor Smith (Hamilton) who was second on the team last year with 251 points.
The Brock Badgers provide the opening night competition for McMaster, hoping to improve on an 11-11 record one year ago. They will be looking to sophomore guard Hillary Woodside (Fall River, N.S.) to carry much of the scoring load this year with the departure of Becky Gallant (Vanessa) and Sharon Hollinshead (Welland). The game tips off at 7 p.m.
In another opening night contest, the Western Mustangs host the Windsor Lancers. Both teams were McMaster’s closest rivals in the West Division standings last year, and will be looking to get a leg up on the competition in 2008-09. The Mustangs have many of last year’s players back in the fold, including team leading scorer and rebounder Bess Lennox (Ottawa). The same can be said about the Lancers, who welcome back leading scorer Dranadia Roc (Montreal) and top rebounder from a year ago Iva Peklovà (Windsor).
Windsor begins the season ranked No. 3 nationally.
The third game features cross-town rivals Waterloo Warriors and Laurier Golden Hawks. Both teams advanced to the West Division playoffs last year, with the Warriors losing to McMaster in the quarter-finals. The Warriors have lost two key players this year, as forward Gillian Maxwell (Kitchener) and guard Kate Poulin (Petersburg) have graduated. Both players combined for over 540 points in 2007-08. Laurier welcomes back third-year guard Reneta Adamczyk (Dundas) who led the Golden Hawks in rebounds and points last year.
The Toronto Varsity Blues are defending champions in the East Division, but have lost graduated forward Christine Cho (Lithia Springs, Ga.), the all-time leading scorer in school history with 1,150 points. The Varsity Blues still feature a strong team with fourth-year guards Alaine Hutton (Hamilton) and Jessica Hiew (Canberra, Australia) back with the club.
East Division rival Laurentian Lady Vees begin the season ranked No. 10 in the nation, but they will have one player noticeably absent from their line-up. Four-time East Division Most Valuable Player and 2007-08 OUA points leader Cassandra Carpenter (Kanata) finished her university career with an all-time OUA record 2,171 p oints and 986 rebounds. The York Lions will also have a couple of key losses this season in 200-point players Brenan Rurak (Holland Landing) and Cortney Fuller (Toronto).
The 2008-09 regular season will run until Feb. 14, with the OUA Women’s Basketball Championship scheduled for Feb. 28. The OUA complete schedule can be found on OUA.ca.