By Gavin Axelrod
It all comes down to Sunday night for the Rams women’s basketball team, who will look to top off an undefeated season with national championship gold in Kingston, Ont.
The Rams are set to face the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, who defeated Queen’s 80-78 in Saturday’s second semi-final. University of Winnipeg plays in the Canada West conference, which means Sunday’s final will be a fresh matchup for both sides.
“I think we’re having a good time,” said Rams head coach Carly Clarke following the team’s morning shoot. “We’ve been having fun all year and I think that’s what makes this group special, we’re excited.”
Winnipeg is led by reigning U Sports women’s basketball Player of The Year Keylyn Filewich and forward Faith Hezekiah. The two combined for 48 points and 19 rebounds in Winnipeg’s win over Queen’s on Saturday.
Elsewhere in the lineup, the Wesmen are rounded out by guards Anna Kernaghan and Robyn Boulanger. They’re also home to Kyanna Giles, sister of Rams veteran Kyia Giles.
“We played together for three years so [it will] be nice to share the court with her one last time,” said the Rams guard.
The Wesmen are a team that plays through Filewich, their six-foot-one centre. Filewich is averaging 16.5 points and 10 rebounds per game at the tournament.
Clarke said prior meetings with Ontario University Athletics opponents such as Queen’s, Ottawa and Laurentian have helped prepare them for a player of Filewich’s calibre. She added that facing an opponent that also plays through their big, like Saskatchewan, earlier in the season helped in game-planning for Sunday’s contest.
“From the beginning of the year we’ve been prepping for these situations,” said Clarke.
After a thrilling win over Brock Saturday afternoon, there’s one last box for the Rams to check off –– winning a national championship.
Clarke said the team’s dynamic style of play and ability to move the ball around the perimeter will be a key point of emphasis on offense tonight. It’s also allowed Rams players Jama Bin-Edward, Mikaela Dodig, Rachel Farwell and Giles to average double-digits in the scoring department during the Final 8. In addition, it’s helped the Rams dish out a combined 37 assists in two games.
Plus, you can’t forget about the Rams defense that led a 22-point comeback in the Critelli Cup final on March 26. They’ve racked up 23 steals and grabbed 51 defensive rebounds at the Final 8.
“We’ve just kept composure in big moments, it’s a long year,” said Clarke. “We’ve talked about…just be the best at getting better and be focused on the process and the current possession that we’re in and I think that’s the approach today.”
UP NEXT: The Rams vie for a national championship title against the University of Winnipeg Wesmen on Sunday night. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.