The Gaels dropped decisions to the country’s top teams in their final homestand of the year.
They fell to the number two nationally-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees Friday night 103-76, before losing to the top-ranked Carleton Ravens 91-59.
The Gaels (9-11) are currently locked in the sixth and final playoff spot in the OUA East. With two games left in the regular season, they could still leapfrog the York Lions (10-10), who sit a game ahead of them in fifth.
Friday night saw Ottawa put up triple digits on the Gaels, causing fits for the defence by hitting 15 three-pointers. The game seemed in reach until the Gee-Gees drew up a beautiful inbound alley-oop from the Gaels’ baseline to finish the first half.
That set the tone for the rest of the game, as it seemed nothing was going right for the Gaels. Still, guard Roshane Roberts was a problem for the Gee-Gees, slicing and dicing through their defence for a team-high 16 points, while forward Ryall Stroud played strong on the inside with two big swatted shots and five rebounds.
Despite the loss, Gaels head coach Steph Barrie gave the country’s second-best team full credit.
“They showed why they’re the second-ranked team in the country,” Barrie said. “They’re a very talented group and when you are playing a team that has five guys that can shoot the three well, it makes it tough to guard.”
Barrie was pleased with the performance of a few of his players on Friday night, as some of them are adjusting to new roles after the loss of star guard Greg Faulkner to a shoulder injury.
“I think some of them are embracing their roles since Greg went down,” Barrie said.
Saturday night saw the Gaels put on a much better defensive performance against the Ravens, the best team in the country. Queen’s played tough, allowing very few easy points. The Ravens’ signature lockdown defence, however, made the Gaels struggle to a dismal 35 per cent shooting from field goal range and 20 per cent from behind the three-point line.
The loss was expected for the Gaels, but the silver lining came in the form of individual veteran performances. Forward Mackenzie Simpson finished with 18 points in his final home game, while forward Nikola Misljencevic’s added five points, five rebounds and four assists in his final game at the ARC.
Gaels freshman centre Mike Shoveller put on his best performance of the year, putting in six points and adding two blocks. Shoveller didn’t want to focus on the loss and instead talked about improving for the next matchup.
“They’re the best team in the country and we know that,” Shoveller said. “We have a lot to work on defensively, but the effort was there.”
The Gaels will travel to Toronto to take on the lowly Varsity Blues (4-16) Friday night and the powerhouse Ryerson Rams (14-6) Saturday. Both games tip at 8 p.m.
Shoveller said the Gaels must close out the final two games of the season strong if they to snag a higher playoff berth.
“We just have to get back to work on Monday,” said the first-year pivot. “We need to build momentum going into the playoffs, so we have to have a good week of practice and take care of our bodies.”
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