High scoring Bruins face tough-at-home Sting

TORONTO – Seneca College in Toronto is host to the 2012 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Women’s Basketball Championship, beginning Thursday (March 1) and running through Saturday.

Eight teams will vie for the OCAA title, including the host Seneca Sting and defending champion Algonquin Thunder.

A total of 12 games will be played in a span of three days as the OCAA introduces a new “backdoor” bronze medal format, similar to its volleyball championships. The quarter-finals begin at 1 p.m. Losing teams will compete in the bronze medal quarter-finals on Friday, followed by the semi-final games. The bronze medal semi-finals and final will take place on Saturday leading into the OCAA gold medal game.

Fans unable to attend the games can follow the proceedings via webcast. Visit the championship website for further information.

The OCAA champion and silver medalist advance to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Basketball National Championship, taking place in Lethbridge, Alta., from March 15-17.

Here is a look at the OCAA quarter-final match-ups:

George Brown (11-5, 3rd East) vs. Algoma (15-3, 2nd West)
Thursday, March 1 – 1 p.m.

Algoma enters the OCAA tournament on a hot streak, winning 11 of 12 games. Third-year guard Corina Bruni (Sault Ste. Marie) had a strong regular season for Algoma, ranking fourth among OCAA players with 264 points, third in steals with 65 and second in assists with 84.

George Brown has won four of its last five games, including a 70-37 home win over Lambton in the OCAA qualifying round. Second-year forward Aria Charles (Toronto) led the Huskies with 159 points, 99 rebounds and 13 blocks during the regular season.

Algoma’s best finish in the OCAA tournament came in 2007 when the Thunderbirds were awarded a silver medal. George Brown was an OCAA powerhouse in the 1970s, but has not won an OCAA medal since earning bronze in 1990.

These squads met in the qualifying round last year, with George Brown winning at home 46-35. The winner of this quarter-final plays the winner of the Humber-Algonquin game.

Humber (13-5, 4th West) vs. Algonquin (15-1, 1st East)
Thursday, 3 p.m.

Defending champion Algonquin has the longest active win streak in the OCAA, winning 15 straight games. Spanning two seasons, the Thunder have won 36 of 38 in regular season as well as OCAA and CCAA post-season play.

Humber had a perfect February winning eight straight games, including a 64-48 home victory over Durham in the OCAA qualifying round.

Algonquin third-year forward Sandre Bascoe (Ottawa) led her team in three statistical categories, including points (258), rebounds (157) and steals (64). Second-year teammate Stacey Poapst (Brockville) was the OCAA co-leader in blocks with 30. Humber first-year forward Atissa Cronk (Kingston) was one of four OCAA players to average a double-double during the regular season, averaging 11.4 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.

Algonquin is currently ranked No. 9 in Canada. The winner of this quarter-final plays the winner of the George Brown-Algoma game.

Sheridan (13-5, 3rd West) vs. Seneca (15-1, 2nd East)
Thursday, 6 p.m.

Seneca puts its 7-1 home record on the line against Sheridan.

Seneca third-year centre Tamara Nembhard (Toronto) earned a team-high 221 points and 118 rebounds during the regular season. Fourth-year teammate Samantha Evans (Scarborough) led the OCAA with 80 steals. The Sting have won seven straight.

Sheridan fourth-year guard Nakia Arthur (Brampton) led all OCAA players with 417 points, and was second in three-pointers shooting 48-of-182 from beyond the arc. The Bruins have won four straight, including an 89-53 sudden death win over Fleming-Peterborough in the qualifying round.

Sheridan scored an OCAA-high 1,315 points during the regular season. Seneca allowed a league-low 626 points. Sheridan and Seneca combined have won five of the last six OCAA championships. Seneca is currently ranked No. 11 in the nation.

The winner of this quarter-final plays the winner of the Loyalist-Fanshawe game.

Loyalist (10-6, 4th East) vs. Fanshawe (16-2, 1st West)
Thursday, March 1 – 8 p.m.

Fanshawe has dominated OCAA West region play this season, with their only losses coming against Algoma.

Third-year forward Natasha Amo (Toronto) contributed a team-high 224 points and 97 rebounds for the Falcons.

Loyalist defeated Niagara at home 55-49 in the OCAA qualifying round to earn a spot at the championship. As she has all season, second-year centre Samantha Goff (Lindsay, Ont.) was strong on the glass, grabbing 16 rebounds. She earned a team-high 115 boards during the regular season. First-year player Jenni Thompson (Belleville, Ont.) led the Lancers in scoring averaging 14.9 points per game.

Both teams enter the quarter-final round on three game win streaks. Fanshawe is ranked No. 14 in Canada.

The winner of this quarter-final plays the winner of the Sheridan-Seneca game.