BB: WPG, SSK guards prove grit at national championships

WPG's Hezekiah and SSK's Stephens earn CW Player of the Week honours

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CALGARY – Winnipeg's Faith Hezekiah and Saskatchewan's Marquavian Stephens were named the Canada West Basketball Players of the Week by the conference on Tuesday.

A veteran of the country's number three ranked team, Hezekiah put together a series of gutsy performances on the national stage this weekend.

She began her hunt Thursday, posting 18 points in the team's 81-67 victory over Laval in the quarter-finals. Hezekiah was the most efficient player on the court, finishing eight of 13 from the field and two of three from deep while grabbing up six rebounds.

On Saturday, the Wesmen battled the Queen's Gaels and their hometown crowd, but the opposing noise and the grandeur of the moment did little to unnerve Hezekiah. Seal the team's largest lead with a three pointer in the first half? Check. Quell Queen's deafening momentum with a fourth-quarter dagger from well beyond the arc? Check. Seize back the lead on two free throws with the anxiety of the late-game moment palpable in the air? Not a doubt. Hezekiah's nerves of steel punched her team's ticket to the national finals as she put up a 26-point double-double.

In the finals, Hezekiah again helped lead her team's offence, posting 27 per cent of the team's points with 13 but it wasn't enough to overcome the undefeated, top-seeded Rams. Hezekiah and her Wesmen finished the weekend with a national silver medal while the East St. Paul, MB product earned a spot on the Championship all-star team.

Game log:
March 31: 18 pts, 6 rebs, 1 ast in 81-67 W vs Laval
April 2: 26 pts, 10 rebs, 1 stl in 80-78 W vs Queen's
April 3: 13 pts, 8 rebs, 1 ast, 1 stl in 70-48 L vs Rams

Meanwhile, Stephens takes home the honour on the men's side for the second straight time after leading his number eight ranked Saskatchewan Huskies to the U SPORTS national finals over the weekend.

Saskatchewan earned the tournament's final seed after placing third in the CW Championships on March 18 & 19. But Stephens and his team embraced the underdog title as they pushed through a tough field to land themselves a national silver.

On Friday, Stephens led his Huskies to a remarkable upset of the number-one ranked Brock Badgers by putting up five of his team-leading points in the final minute of a barn-burning game. With his team stuck three heading into the final minute, Stephens took charge, first hitting a three then finessing his way through a double team to the basketball to put his team up by one with five seconds left. He stole the ball back in the dying seconds to punctuate his statement.

Stephens has established himself as the epitome of a clutch player after hitting a game-winning three-pointer in the final moments of the team's bronze medal game at the CW Championship, their ticket to nationals.

In Saturday's semi-final match, Stephens again led his team's charge as they trampled the fifth-seeded Queen's Gaels, 86-60. Stephens posted 25 points, five rebounds, seven assists and a steal in another electric performance. The Flint, MI product fuelled the Huskies in their second-straight upset and into the National Championship Final.

In the Finals, the Huskies ran into a roadblock, falling to the Carleton Ravens despite a valiant effort. Stephens put up 16 points, five assists, three rebounds and a steal but it wasn't enough to overcome a second-quarter lead built by the Ravens. The Huskies took home a national silver medal, while Stephens earned a spot on the Championship's all-star team.

Game log:
April 1: 19 pts, 5 rebs, 5 asts, 2 stls in 77-73 W vs Brock
April 2:
25 pts, 5 rebs, 7 asts, 1 stl in 86-60 W vs Queen's
April 3: 16 pts, 3 rebs, 5 asts, 1 stl in 85-72 L vs Carleton


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About Canada West

Since 1972, Canada West (CW) has been a leader in Canadian university sport, working to provide our student-athletes the opportunities to excel in sport, the classroom, and their communities. CW and our 17 members from across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba collectively carry on a legacy of competitive excellence, as our champions proudly go on to represent the conference at U SPORTS national championships.

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