Marauders star Gates, Ancaster’s Urban win U Sports national basketball awards


Published March 8, 2023 at 6:15 pm

Sarah Gates (centre; photo McMaster Athletics.)

Sarah Gates, who got buckets at rates seldom seen in Canadian university basketball, has earned the Nan Copp Trophy as the national women’s player of the year.

Gates, a graduating lead guard from the McMaster Marauders who set a career scoring record for the Hamilton squad, picked up the top prize at the U Sports’ All-Canadian awards banquet held in Sydney, N.S., tonight on the eve of the Final 8 national tournament. Ancaster native Jacqueline Urban, a guard whose Carleton Ravens squad is the No. 1 seed at the Final 8, captured the Kathy Shields Award for Rookie of the Year.

It is the second time in seven years (six seasons since university sport was paused in 2020-21 by COVID-19 health protections) that a Marauders guard has won player of the year. Danielle Boiago, who is now the Marauders’ lead assistant coach alongside coach Theresa Burns, won the Copp Trophy in 2016-17. Both Gates and Boiago were part of the group that brought Mac its first basketball national title in 2019.

In 1998, Titus Channer became the first Marauders hoopster to win national player-of-the-year honours when he received Mike Moser Memorial Trophy. The men’s basketball Marauders were national runners-up that season.

This season, the 5-foot-10 Gates scored at a nearly point-per-minute rate while pacing the nation in scoring. Gates averaged 27.3 points and 7.8 rebounds and made the most baskets, three-pointers, and free throws of any player in the Ontario (OUA) conference. The Marauders finished with a 23-7 overall record and came within one victory of earning a Final 8 berth, losing to Carleton in the semifinal stage of the Critelli Cup playoffs. (Ontario has two auto-berths into the Final 8.)

Over her run in maroon and grey, Gates had a steady progression as a scorer. In 2021-22, she led OUA in scoring and earned second-team All-Canadian status. She was also the OUA runner-up in scoring in the championship ’18-19 season and again in ’19-20, and was also a double-digit scorer as a rookie in ’17-18.

The MVP of each regional sports conference becomes a finalist for the award. Gates’ credentials were considered against those of fellow nominees Carly Ahlstrom (Saskatchewan Huskies, Canada West), Haley McDonald, (Acadia Axewomen, Atlantic) and Amaiquen Siciliano (Bishop’s Gaiters, Québec).

Urban sparkplug for No. 1-seeded Carleton

Urban, a 5-11 guard, earned her epaulets as rookie of the year by averaging a double-double with 10.0 points and 10.8 rebounds for the Ravens. Her regular-season tally of 238 rebounds set a team record, breaking a mark set by Heather Lindsay, who was a 6-foot-3 post player on some top Carleton teams in the late 2010s. Urban played the third-most minutes of any Carleton player and is the second-leading scorer for a Ravens team that takes a 26-6 overall record into the nationals.

In a statement, Carleton coach Dani Sinclair hailed Urban for the “countless times where she just understood when we needed a momentum shift and just willed our team to win.”

The other rookie-of-the-year finalists were Bianca Helmig (Acadia, Atlantic), Daniella Mbengo (McGill Martlets, Québec), and Logan Reider (Saskatchewan, Canada West).

McMaster guard Arianne Soriano was the Ontario nominee for the Sylvia Sweeney Award — Student-Athlete Community Service. Aliyah Fraser of the St. Francis Xavier X-Women, and New Glasgow, N.S., won that honour.

Both U Sports basketball championships are taking place this weekend in Nova Scotia. Games will be webcast live on CBC Gem and the CBC Sports YouTube channel.

The women’s tourney in Sydney, where No. 1 Carleton and No. 3 Queen’s Gaels are repping Ontario, begins with quarterfinals on Thursday. The semifinals on Saturday have 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. tip-off times (all times ET), and the final is at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The men’s Final 8 in Halifax requires winning three games in as many days. The quarterfinals are on Friday. Semifinal Saturday involves 5 and 7 p.m. starts, and the final on Sunday is 5 p.m.

The No. 2-seeded Ottawa Gee-Gees, No. 3 Carleton, and No. 5 Queen’s (the at-large selection) are representing OUA. The Victoria Vikes are the No. 1 seed.

Carleton, which is in nationals for the 20th time in a row, has won 16 of the last 19 titles. They have not lost a quarterfinal game since falling 78-77 to a Joe Raso-coached McMaster team back in March 2001.

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