Basketball·U Sports

Queen's Gaels, Carleton Ravens to battle for women's basketball national title

Laura Donovan scored a game-high 21 points to lead the third-seeded Queen's Gaels to a 72-62 win over the second-seeded Alberta Pandas in the first semifinal of the 2023 U Sports women's Final 8 on Saturday.

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Ten female basketball players are seen celebrating.
Third-seeded Queen's Gaels players celebrate a 72-62 victory over the second-seeded Alberta Pandas in the first semifinal of the 2023 U Sports women's Final 8 on Saturday in Sydney, N.S. (@USPORTS_Bball/Twitter)

Laura Donovan scored a game-high 21 points to lead the third-seeded Queen's Gaels to a 72-62 win over the second-seeded Alberta Pandas in the first semifinal of the 2023 U Sports women's Final 8 on Saturday in Sydney, N.S.

Donovan made six of 10 three-pointers en route to leading the Gaels to the championship game.

And in the second semifinal, Kali Pocrnic scored a game-high 17 points to lead the top-seeded Carleton Ravens to a 65-46 win over the No. 4-ranked Saint Mary's Huskies.

Pocrnic shot six-for-15 from the field and played a game-high 35 minutes while leading the Ravens to the championship final.

Watch live coverage of the women's tournament on, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem. Coverage continues on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET as Acadia takes on Calgary in the consolation final.

The Pandas came out strong early, drawing first blood and not looking back. They jumped out to an 11-2 lead, but a timeout and reset for Queen's composed the Gaels and turned the game around.

Queen's tied the game at 13 before Alberta hit a free throw to take a 14-13 lead after the first. The second quarter featured more turnovers, as the two teams combined for 15 in the opening 20 minutes. A 53 per cent shooting performance for the Pandas in the first half gave them a 34-30 lead at the break.

The turnover problem continued through the third quarter as both teams struggled to penetrate. The tide shifted in the Gaels' favour as they clawed back and eventually found their first lead of the game with 3:16 to go. Donovan hit two big three-pointers to extend Queen's lead to six, and the Gaels saw themselves up 51-48 after three quarters.

The Gaels did not waver in the fourth quarter, holding their lead for all 10 minutes. Alberta's first successful three-pointer went through the hoop with four minutes remaining, while Queen's made eight in the second half alone.

Donovan was the player of the game for the Gaels, finishing 60 per cent from beyond the arc with 21 points. Bridget Mulholland added a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Julia Chadwick added a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double.

Emma Kary earned player of the game honours for Alberta, finishing with 15 points and four rebounds. Jenna Harpe also had 15 points, adding five assists, while Claire Signatovich pitched in 15 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

WATCH | Gaels beat Pandas in semifinals:

U Sports Women’s Basketball National Championship: Semifinal #1

20 days ago
Duration 1:57:58
Watch Queen's Gaels take on Alberta Pandas in the semifinals of the U Sports Women’s Basketball National Championship from Sydney, N.S.

Much like the first semifinal, the Ravens and Huskies exchanged turnovers in the opening quarter. Both sides struggled to get in rhythm, resulting in a 13-13 deadlock after the opening frame.

SMU's Clara Gascoigne went down around the eight-minute mark and did not return, making it difficult on the Huskies the rest of the way. Pocrnic had eight points in the second, and the Ravens extended their lead to as much as 10 before ultimately taking a 36-26 lead at halftime.

Carleton came out swinging in the third and kept the Huskies at bay throughout the quarter. The Ravens, with strong defence and a 17 point lead, had the Huskies in complete control. With their eyes on the championship final, the top seed went into the final 10 minutes up 53-36. Carleton held the Huskies to 13 or less in every quarter of the game and closed it out with the win.

Pocrnic took home player of the game for Carleton, scoring 17 points and adding seven dimes in this one. Kyana Jade Poulin had three three-pointers and finished with 11 points and five rebounds, while Dorcas Buisa was effective with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Sophia Widmeyer earned the player of the game honours for Saint Mary's, scoring 16 points and eight rebounds for the Huskies. Courtney Donaldson and Sarah Forgie each had six points off the bench in the loss.

Saint Mary's will play for bronze against the Alberta Pandas on Sunday afternoon.

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