Mississauga athlete part of undefeated U Sports basketball champions


Published April 3, 2022 at 8:54 pm

Stefanija Mrvaljevic and her Rams teammates have completed the first perfect season in U Sports women’s basketball in almost two decades.

The Mississauga native was one of the captains who hoisted the Bronze Baby championship trophy on Sunday, after the Toronto-based Rams routed the Winnipeg Wesmen 70-48. The Rams’ decisive win completed their 24-0 season also brought the university its first national title in basketball.

Mrvaljevic thrived in her defensive assignment of guarding Canadian university player of the year Keylyn Filewich, whom the Rams limited to 10 points. The Applewood Heights Secondary School alumna also snared eight rebounds as part of a team effort on defence.

While the final was a walkover, the Rams had to outlast Ontario University Athletics rival Brock Badgers 56-48 in overtime in the semifinal on Saturday. Mrvaljevic made a game-tying basket with 1:07 left in the fourth quarter to help the Rams force OT.

The Rams and Brock also went to overtime in the OUA final on March 26, when the teams were vying for seeding position in the nationals. The Rams surmounted a 22-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 72-70 in overtime.

COVID-19 safety measures in Ontario meant that top university basketball teams played 12 to 15 fewer games than the usually do across the course of the season. Regardless, the Rams are the first women’s team to go undefeated since Simon Fraser in 2004-05.

Along with the overtime battles with Brock, the Rams and Mrvaljevic also had two wins that were by a single point apiece. In late February, they won 51-50 at Ottawa, and also edged Brock 62-61 in their non-conference opener in October.

Brock wound up fourth in the nation after losing 75-57 against the Queen’s Gaels in the bronze-medal game earlier on Sunday. The Badgers went 17-5 this season, with the Rams dealing three of the defeats.

While the university men’s game has been dominated by the Carleton Ravens for two decades, women’s hoops has had much more parity. The Rams, whose university is undergoing a renaming process, are the fifth first-time champion in the last six seasons.

The Saskatchewan Huskies, who won the Bronze Baby in 2020 just days before COVID-19 shut down varsity sports for 18 months, are the only title-winning team over that stretch with a previous title. But Saskatchewan also won its first title in 2016, followed by the McGill Martletes (2017), Carleton (’18) and McMaster Marauders (’19).

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