SARNIA, Ontario — Through two weeks in the OUA, the usual suspects are on top of the standings, but several teams are right on their heels.
Both the Carleton Ravens and McMaster Marauders advanced to the U Sports Final 8 National Championships a season ago, and both teams are atop their respective divisions through the early part of the year. Carleton is tied with the Ryerson Rams atop the OUA East Division with identical 3-0 records, while the Marauders are two points behind the Lakehead Thunderwolves in the West Division with a game in-hand. McMaster sits at 3-0, while Lakehead comes in at 4-0.
From there, a pair of teams are 2-1 in the East Division, just two points out of first-place through three games. In the West Division, two teams are coming in at 3-1 and are tied with McMaster with six points apiece. The season is young, and the standings will change several times between now and the post-season, but the Ravens and Marauders have company atop the standings.
Last week, fans were treated to several impressive individual performances from some of the biggest names in the league. Some underappreciated players from across the OUA stepped up in a big way to guide their team to victory as they continue to jockey for position.
Here are five players who stood out above the rest in this week’s Starting Five.
Starting Five: Oct. 29 – Nov. 4, 2018
Nikki Ylagan – Lakehead Thunderwolves
21 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals in 79-61 win at Nipissing
19 points, 1 rebound, 2 steals in 75-51 win at Laurentian
Through four games this season, Nikki Ylagan has been one of the most consistent offensive players across the entire OUA. When you include the preseason and the five exhibition games for Lakehead, Ylagan has eight games with double-digit points to her name. After another impressive week, one that saw the Thunderwolves improve their record to 4-0, Ylagan has reached double-figures in all four regular season games.
Lakehead was on the road this past week for games against the Nipissing Lakers and Laurentian Voyageurs. Against the Lakers, Ylagan went for 21 points, two rebounds, and two steals in the 18-point win for the Thunderwolves, 79-61. The next night, she went for another 19 points and two steals to help guide Lakehead to the 75-51 win over Laurentian. For the week, she averaged an even 20.0 points and 2.0 steals per contest while helping the Thunderwolves stay atop the OUA West Division standings with eight points.
Marianne Alarie – Queen’s Gaels
12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals in 58-48 win at Western
34 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals in 88-79 loss at Windsor
Fifth year guard Marianne Alarie has been putting up some impressive numbers through three games this season. In the Gaels’ season opener against the York Lions, the native of Sudbury, ON posted 26 points and 12 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. This past week, she continued her strong play with two more games with double-digit points as the Gaels earned a split on their two-game road trip to Southwestern Ontario.
Up first, Queen’s took part in a daytime game against the Western Mustangs on their School Day Game. Alarie went for 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals to help guide the Gaels to the 58-48 win. From there, the Gaels took a trip down Highway 401 for a contest with the Windsor Lancers. While the Gaels would come out on the losing end, 88-79, Alarie recorded 34 points, six rebounds, and two steals to lead the way for the visiting side.
Over the week, Alarie averaged 23.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game.
Linnaea Harper – McMaster Marauders
26 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals in 81-62 win at Brock
Winning on the road is never easy in collegiate basketball, but Linnaea Harper and the McMaster Marauders passed their first road test with flying colours this past week. The Marauders entered the week as the #3 team in the country after the initial U Sports Top 10 rankings came out on Monday, and they showed that they were more than deserving after another solid performance this past week.
The Marauders had one game this past week, and it came on the road in St. Catharines, ON against the Brock Badgers. McMaster picked up their second double-digit win of the season, cruising past the Badgers to remain undefeated, 81-62. Harper recorded another double-double, posting 26 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two assists and three steals in the win. She is averaging 18.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season for the Marauders, who sit at 3-0 through the first two weeks of the season.
Hayley Robertson – Ryerson Rams
13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals in 74-59 win vs. Guelph
9 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal in 77-40 win vs. Algoma
Atop the OUA East Division, the Ryerson Rams and Carleton Ravens ended the second week with matching 3-0 records after both teams held down their respective home courts with a pair of wins. For the Rams, Hayley Robertson played a starring role on both nights, and while her scoring numbers won’t jump off the box score and catch your eye, it was her ability to impact the game on both ends of the court that stood out among the rest.
Robertson and the Rams played host to both the Guelph Gryphons and Algoma Thunderbirds in Toronto last week, and a pair of wins pushed Ryerson’s record to 3-0 and kept them in a share for first-place in the OUA East Division. In the Rams’ 74-59 win over the Gryphons, Robertson went for 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals for an all-round strong performance. The next night, she went for nine points, six rebounds, and four assists in Ryerson’s 37-point win over Algoma.
For the week, Robertson averaged 11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.
Kayah Clarke – Windsor Lancers
27 points, 1 rebound, 6 assists, 6 steals in 97-76 win vs. York
20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals in 88-79 win vs. Queen’s
The Windsor Lancers reigned supreme over the OUA for years with six league title in seven years from 2008-09 through to 2014-15, but after a three-year title drought, the Lancers have their sights set on securing the gold medal and contending for a national championship. This past week, Kayah Clarke and the Lancers took another step towards their goal, holding down their home court with a pair of wins to push their record to 3-1 on the year.
Windsor welcomed York to town to kick off their two-game weekend, and a strong performance from Clarke carried the Lancers to the 97-76 victory. Clarke went for 27 points, six assists, and six steals in Windsor’s 21-point victory. From there, the Lancers welcomed Queen’s to town to close out the weekend. After bouncing back from their first loss of the season with a convincing win over York, the Lancers extended their winning streak to a modest two games with an 88-79 victory over the Gaels. Once again, Clarke was at the forefront of the attack, posting 20 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
For the week, Clarke averaged 23.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 4.0 steals per contest.
– T. Bennett