Women’s basketball alum Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby ’17 wins BUCS national championship with team

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Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby ’17 (#14) celebrates with her team after winning the BUCS Championship. Photo courtesy of Zack Philyaw

AJ Traub

Former Leopards center Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby ‘17 won the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) national championship in her first season with the Durham University Palatinates, while simultaneously working toward earning her masters in Politics and International Relations at Durham.

The 84-83 win over Northumbria University was close the whole way, with lead changes in the final seconds. Northumbria took the lead on a jumpshot, giving Durham just 19 seconds to respond. The team executed their final shot perfectly, then held for 10 seconds on the defensive end to seal the win.

“Definitely the most exciting moment of the game was the winning play of the game,” Ottewill-Soulsby wrote in a text. “We were down by 1 point with about 20 seconds to go and our coach [Christina Marshall, filling in for head coach Lee Davie] drew up a sideline out of bounds lob play. Our point guard [Tess Williams] threw a lob pass to our guard [Cierra Ceazer] and she (very athletically) caught it over two people and hit a bank shot.”

Ottewill-Soulsby came up big for the team. A starter all season, she started the game in the front court and played most of the game, including at the end of the game when every possession was critical.

“On an individual level, a career highlight for me was hitting a three [point shot] when it was only a three point game with 3 minutes to go,” Ottewill-Soulsby wrote. “Thankfully I made it, otherwise I would’ve been on the bench for the rest of the game!”

The Palatinates made the championship after finishing in fourth place in the league standings. Northumbria was the favorite, having won the league.

“Even though we finished 4th in the league, and [Northumbria] finished top, we never saw ourselves as the underdog,” Ottewill-Soulsby wrote. “The semi-final game we had played the week before we played the best team basketball we had all season and had beaten another good team by 2 points. Following on from that, the team was clicking all practice and we started mentally and physically preparing the week before.”

After graduating from Lafayette in 2017, Ottewill-Soulsby joined Durham in August of the same year.

“It’s really exciting to win a championship in our first year,” Ottewill-Soulsby wrote. “A lot of people doubted us this season and we had to overcome quite a lot of adversity but we pulled through. For a lot of my teammates, it’s their last year playing basketball so we wanted to give them the final season they deserve and send them out on top.”

A co-captain as a junior and senior, Ottewill-Soulsby says her time at Lafayette prepared her well for a big role on the Palatinates. Her efforts earned her a selection on the All-Star 5 for BUCS in week 21 of the season.

“Playing at Lafayette gave me the confidence and maturity to easily slip into a starting role at Durham,” Ottewill-Soulsby wrote. “I’m having one of the best years basketball-wise and I think that’s because of the way that Lafayette prepared me both physically and mentally.”

Ottewill-Soulsby has played for Lafayette, Great Britain’s under-20 team, the Great Britain Senior Women’s squad and will continue her basketball career in Durham in hopes of a repeat as league champions.

“I’ve decided to split my masters course in Politics and International Relations to have more time to focus on basketball, so I will be at Durham for another season after this,” Ottewill-Soulsby wrote. “We have already started to prepare for defending our national title and we are also hoping to really assert ourselves in the WBBL [Women’s British Basketball League], which is the other league we also compete in. To win a national championship in both the BUCS league and the WBBL is the dream.”