TORONTO, Ont – The Humber Hawks will be making its fifth consecutive final four appearance after defeating the St. Clair Saints in the quarter-final round of the OCAA Championship presented by belairdirect.
OCAA Player of the Year Ceejay Nofuente finished with a game-high 23 points as No. 1 Humber beat St. Clair 68-50 Thursday afternoon in the OCAA quarter-final matchup.
Humber (19-0) advanced to the semi-final Friday evening against the Fanshawe Falcons (14-6), which defeated Algonquin (13-5) 72-66 in the other quarter-final. Humber swept the series with the Falcons this season.
Shortly after receiving its fourth straight Division Championship plaque, the Hawks were back on the court to defend its provincial title; however the league's top scoring offence struggled for large parts of the game.
As the third ranked defence in the conference, the Saints (13-7) managed to hold Humber to season-low 27.9 per cent on 12 of 43 shooting in the opening half. Trailing by as many as seven points in the opening frame, Humber cut it to 12-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Grinding through the cold shooting, Humber's offence began to improve in the second quarter after a basket from forward Stephanie Antwi gave the Hawks its first lead of the game. After 20 minutes of play Humber led 33-27.
Despite the poor shooting performance, Humber's defence was exceptional in the second half as the Saints shot 24.4 per cent on 10 of 41 from the floor. Fourth-year guard Amber Bechard paced the Hawks defence like she has all season long and held all-star Shannon Kennedy to nine points on 22.2 per cent (4 of 18) from the floor.
Aleena Domingo, fresh off her fourth all-star selection, narrowly missed a double-double for Humber and finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Bechard finished with 13 points while tying a season-high with five rebounds and was named player of the game for the Hawks.
The two teams met in the OCAA quarter-final for a second straight year after Humber beat the Saints 90-81 in last year's opener in Welland.
Friday's semi-final against Fanshawe will tip off at 6 p.m.