The Gaels are finally in first place in the OUA East.
Pivotal wins this weekend against the Ottawa Gee-Gees (12-8) and the Carleton Ravens (14-6) will ensure the Gaels (14-6) advance directly to the OUA East semi-finals in the playoffs. Since they swept the Gee-Gees this season, Queen’s can’t finish lower than second.
Even though the Gaels and Ravens hold the same record, the Gaels have a greater point differential total from their two meetings, giving them the tiebreaker edge if they finish the same.
Gaels head coach Dave Wilson said being in first place provides a major boost for his squad.
“I think again the most important thing is the confidence that comes with [being in first],” he said. “It’s just believing we can beat anybody in our division.”
The last time Queen’s was in a position to take home the OUA East division title was in 2001, the same year they became OUA champions and advanced to nationals.
With two games left to play, the Gaels are poised to match their team’s best regular season record. Their victorious weekend also meant they extended their winning streak to five.
The Gaels showed the Gee-Gees why they have the 10th best defense in the country on Friday, winning 51-47. They held them to 6.7 per cent from beyond the arc and forced them to commit 27 turnovers in the game.
In spite of their poor shooting, the Gee-Gees still found a way to keep it competitive to the very end.
The play from guard Liz Boag and forward Jenny Wright prevented the Gee-Gees from distancing themselves from the Gaels, since three of their starters didn’t register a single point until the fourth quarter. Boag, who was 8-10 from the field for 23 points, scored 16 in the first half.
Wright found her shooting stroke in the second half by scoring 15 of her 17 points after going 1-7 in the first.
The Gaels claimed the lead midway through the fourth quarter and never let up. With four seconds left in regulation, Boag iced the game with two made free throws to make it a two-possession game.
Wilson was impressed with Boag’s play, especially considering the guard had difficult games against Ottawa in the past.
“That’s just Liz. When she wants to play, boy, she can really play,” Wilson said.
Forward Gemma Bullard couldn’t find her stroke all night. She finished with zero points, but was able to contribute defensively with five steals.
A frightening moment occurred in the fourth quarter when Bullard fell face-first onto the floor as she was securing a loose ball. She remained on the floor for several minutes while training staff tended to her. She was able to walk to her bench, but didn’t return to play.
The Gaels played their final home game of the regular season against the Ravens, ending with a 9-2 home record. During their previous meeting in Ottawa, Queen’s lost 57-55. On Saturday, the Gaels made sure they didn’t repeat the performance, winning 63-58.
With the game tied at 58 after a made three-pointer by Carleton’s Elizabeth Roach, Boag responded by draining a go-ahead three of her own with 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens then committed a series of mistakes that decidedly dashed their hopes of staying alive. Lindsey Suprunchuk committed an offensive foul during an inbounds play, giving the ball back to the Gaels, and the entire team failed to secure a defensive rebound when the Gaels missed a shot attempt.
Bullard had a strong rebound game, scoring a game-high 19 points to go along with six rebounds and four steals. Boag had difficulty scoring, going 3-16 from the floor and finishing with eight points.
The Gaels will finish their regular season on the road next weekend against the Toronto Varsity Blues (11-9) and the Ryerson Rams (8-12).
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