A capsule look at the U Sports women's basketball Final 8

A capsule look at the eight teams competing in the U Sports women's basketball Final 8 in Sydney, N.S.

Teams are listed by seeding heading into the tournament, along with their respective regular season records. The tournament runs from Thursday to Sunday.

No. 1 Carleton (19-3)

The top-ranked Ravens make their return to the Final 8 after missing out on last season’s nationals due to an OUA semifinal loss to eventual conference and national champion Toronto Metropolitan Bold (then Ryerson Rams). Carleton took down then-No. 1 Queen’s last Saturday en route to its first Critelli Cup since 2018. That was also the last time the Ravens were the top seed at the nationals and won the crown.

No. 2 Alberta (15-5)

The Pandas make their first appearance at nationals since 2020 after falling short last season and the 2021 tournament being cancelled due to the pandemic. Behind leading scorer Emma Kary (18.5 points per game) and U Sports' second-leading rebounder Claire Signatovich (13.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game), Alberta rolled through the Canada West playoffs with three consecutive double-digit victories en route to winning the conference title.

No. 3 Queen’s (21-1)

The Gaels had the best regular-season record in the country this season. However, a familiar foe foiled their goal of an OUA title, when Carleton defeated them 70-57 last Saturday. The Ravens are the only team to defeat Queen’s this season. After claiming bronze at last year’s nationals as the seventh seed and hosts, the Gaels will aim for more hardware this year.

No. 4 Saint Mary’s (15-5)

The Huskies won their first AUS title since winning four straight from 2013 to 2016, defeating Acadia 68-56 behind a 20-point performance from guard and tournament MVP Alaina McMillan. Opening the Final 8 against Canada West finalist Calgary Dinos, the Huskies remain in search of the program’s first national title.

No. 5 Calgary (13-7)

Despite finishing the regular season being sixth in their conference, the Dinos made an emergence in the post-season. Calgary ousted Winnipeg (15-5) and Regina (17-3) before falling to Alberta in the conference title game. Despite not having a single player in the top 25 for scoring or rebounding in Canada West, the Dinos have carved out a path to playing for national glory.

No. 6 UQAM (9-7)

Similar to Calgary, the RSEQ champion Citadins set out an unlikely path into the nationals. After a 9-7 regular season and a tight semifinal win over Laval (9-7), UQAM upset regular-season conference leader Bishop’s (14-2) in the final to earn the crown. However, the road only gets harder as the Citadins open against Queen’s.

No. 7 Acadia (16-3)

The Axewomen paced the AUS with a 16-3 regular-season record before falling to Saint Mary’s in the conference title game. However, an at-large berth gives Acadia new life with an even bigger opportunity at hand. Led by guard and AUS leading scorer Haley McDonald (22.5 points per game), the Axewomen aim to redeem themselves after a first-round exit, followed by a consolation loss at last season’s nationals.

No. 8 Cape Breton (9-11)

Behind forward Kiyara Letlow, who is fifth in U Sports in scoring (20.6) and first in rebounding (16.6 per game), the host Capers will have their hands full opening against Carleton. Cape Breton finished fifth in the AUS regular-season standings before falling to UPEI in the quarterfinals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2023.

Abdulhamid Ibrahim, The Canadian Press