McMaster Marauders ousted in OUA hoops playoffs, after star guards win awards


Published March 1, 2023 at 8:06 pm

The individual hardware earned by graduating guards Sarah Gates and Ariane Soriano was likely little salve for the collective heartache of the McMaster Marauders.

The one development the Marauders could ill-afford on the road a do-or-done Ontario conference (OUA) basketball semifinal against the Carleton Ravens — having Gates start slowly from the floor and fall into first-half foul trouble — came to pass on Wednesday night. With the Ontario (OUA) conference MVP, national scoring leader and McMaster career scoring leader off her usual prodigious pace, the No. 7-ranked Marauders dug a 14-point halftime deficit against the No. 2-ranked Ravens in the nation’s capital. Carleton, whose core group includes OUA first-team all-star guard Kali Pocrnic and OUA rookie of the year Jacqueline Urban of Ancaster native, made that stand up in a 69-55 win.

The victory gives Carleton one of OUA’s two berths in the U SPORTS Women’s Basketball Final 8 (March 9-12 at Sydney, N.S.). The No. 1-ranked Queen’s Gaels defeated the No. 8 Waterloo Warriors 69-62 in the other semifinal.

The Acadia Axewomen (Atlantic conference runner-up) appear to have the inside track on receiving the single wild-card berth. Some other teams are also in the queue above the Marauders, so it appears a 23-7 season that included a first-place finish in the OUA Central division will end on a down note.

Out of halftime and down by double digits, Gates showed some of the takeover form that was the hallmark of a season where she averaged 27.3 points per game, which was 8.5 more than the next-highest scorer in Canadian university women’s hoops. She finished with a game-high 22 points, but it came on 7-of-18 shooting.

As they tried to climb back and chase points,, McMaster ended up with a 35.4 effective shooting percentage (19-of-65, including 8-of-37 on triples). Hamilton native Amy Stinson, with 10, was the Marauders’ other double-figure scorer.

Pocrnic had 21 points for Carleton, while Urban added 10 and nabbed seven rebounds before fouling out. A pair of Porcnic’s fellow guards, Dorcas Buisa and Kyana-Jade Poulin, helped make McMaster’s attack somewhat sporadic. Poulin made back-to-back steals in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter, leading to successive Ravens conversions and a gaping 61-43 lead.

Named MVP

Gates was a shoo-in for OUA MVP honours, which also makes her the conference nominee for national player of the year. The Newmarket native had a school-record 47-point game in November. By the end of the regular season, Gates was the 10th all-time career scoring in U Sports and third nationally with 1,857 points.

Soriano, a Mississauga native, also received OUA’s Joy Bellinger Award for career contributions to basketball and sports culture. Soriano is president of McMaster’s varsity leadership committee, and is also an executive Member of MAC Athletes Care, which creates and supports community and social initiatives. She is also McMaster High Performance’s first-ever female strength and conditioning intern coach, where she conducts varsity team training sessions and monitors training techniques.

On the floor, the four-time academic all-Canadian also averaged 4.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.2 steals. That all-around contribution helped McMaster finish fourth in OUA in net efficiency — behind the OUA East trio of the Ottawa Gee-Gees, Queen’s, and Carleton.

The result on Wednesday was the finale for another Marauders guard, Hannon native Mia Spadafora. In the regular season, Spadafora led OUA in three-point shooting at 48.4 per cent.

Hamilton native Vanessa Hughes, a guard for Waterloo, was also named to the OUA second all-star team on Wednesday. Hughes helped the Warriors reach the conference semifinals for the first time since 1986, after averaging 17.0 points in the regular season. The lefty guard also had a game-high 22 points for Waterloo against Queen’s on Wednesday.

Queen’s will host Carleton in the Critelli Cup OUA championship game in Kingston on Saturday (7 p.m.,

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