Ottawa 66, Concordia 52: Shorthanded Stingers Women’s Basketball Team Loses at Home
Stingers Put up a Valiant Effort Despite Only Fielding Seven Players
The Stingers have yet to win a game this preseason, but have plenty to be positive about.
With less than 20 seconds to go in the fourth quarter on Thursday’s Concordia Classic opener, Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens called a time-out. Players huddled around attentively as Gittens, clipboard and marker in hand, urged her team to get a good shot to finish the game.
All of this even though the Stingers were down 12 points with no hope of winning.
For a shorthanded Concordia team only able to field seven players due to a spate of injuries—including key players like 2019 Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec’s Caroline Task—after last weekend’s tournament in Regina, wins and losses are still important, but improvement is the name of the game.
“We come out to compete every time but at this point, we’re just trying to learn, grow and get better,” said Gittens. “We’re keeping these girls out, being precautious, and just making sure they come back healthy and strong.”
Fourth-year Concordia forward Nikita Telesford, who finished with a game-high 14 points along with five rebounds and three steals, established her presence in the post early in the game.
Telesford, who is new to Concordia after three seasons with Michigan’s Oakland University, hopes this aspect of her game can be an asset for the Stingers going forward.“I can definitely be a beast on the inside for this team,” Telesford said. “Previously they had that [but now] there is more than just one or two of us, we have a group of post players that can be dominant inside.”
This was no easy task as Ottawa made sure Concordia’s forwards worked hard on the defensive end, dealing with 6’5” forward Angela Ribarich, who scored nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Both teams struggled to make shots in the first quarter, but the Gee-Gees quickly built a commanding 17-point lead in the second quarter, going into halftime up 31 – 14.
It looked like the lack of reinforcements had caught up to the Stingers, as the signs of fatigue were starting to show.
There were flashes of crisp passing and quick ball movement, but the team struggled to take advantage of mismatches on offense and keep up with Ottawa on the boards.
“We were missing a lot of shots. Usually, we have [Caroline Task] coming off a lot of that screening action and banging down shots and we didn’t have that so [Ottawa] are getting defensive rebounds and able to push the ball” said Gittens.
In the second half, the Stingers finally came alive. Concordia forced Ottawa to eight turnovers while only making two of their own and started to find a rhythm on offense.
Third-year guard Sabrina Linéus drove into the paint, shaking her defender with some deft handles and scoring a layup to bring the score to 24-31 and keep the Stingers within reach.
Linéus was one of the players who received much minutes than they usually would due to the injuries. Coach Gittens believes this may be a blessing in disguise for her team.
“Those guys that come off the bench are seeing significant minutes; they’re having offense run through them. So now when we need them down the stretch… come conference time they’ll have the
experience” said Gittens.
“I’m just trying to step up my game and play for [my injured teammates] so other teams don’t see any difference,” said Linéus who finished with six points, three rebounds, and an assist.
While they were unable to grab rebounds or block shots, the sidelined players made sure their voices were heard, encouraging and giving pointers to their teammates on the floor.
“As the bench was yelling and pushing us we just kept going in the game,” said Linéus. “Our bench stepped in and made up for the fact that we were a short lineup. They made it just as loud in the gym” Telesford added.
The Stingers were unable to overcome the deficit but this is a team whose record is not a true reflection of their quality at full strength. They will be an interesting team to watch once those players on the sidelines are able to contribute, not just with their voices but with some basketball.