By Peter Reimer
The men’s basketball team broke a 25-game losing streak this weekend, beating the Royal Military College Paladins in both games of a home-and-home series. The Gaels won 84-43 at RMC on Friday night and followed up with a 72-41 win at the ARC on Saturday night.
Guard Ryan Golden said it was a relief to break the losing streak that dated back to an Oct. 7 preseason loss to the Bishop’s Gaiters.
“We were confident going into these two games,” he said. “We just wanted to play hard and treat it like any other game.”
The Paladins are 0-18 and have lost by an average margin of 53 points. But Golden said he was impressed with the Paladins’ work ethic.
“They’re underdogs by a mile every single game and no one gives them a chance in the world to win, but they still fight,” he said. “It gets chippy at times, but kudos to them for hanging in there all season.
On Friday, the Gaels used a 12-0 first-quarter run to lead 38-20 at the half. They didn’t slow down in the second half, scoring 19 unanswered points in the third quarter en route to a 41-point win.
All 12 Gaels saw the floor in the team’s first win of the season, with 10 players scoring points. Forward Alex Weatherill led the way with 16 points, while forwards Nikola Misljencevic and Matt Baker added 13 points each.
The Gaels also jumped out to an early lead on Saturday to go up 19-4 after the first quarter and 34-16 at halftime.
They kept it up after the break, with Mackenzie Simpson’s fast-break dunk to start the third quarter.
Gaels’ forward Bernard Burgesson hit a pair of three-pointers as part of a 10-0 fourth-quarter run, widening the margin to 31 points.
Simpson recorded the team’s first double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He also had five steals and four assists. Simpson has now scored double digits in eight consecutive games.
Misljencevic, who had six rebounds to go with a team-high 18 points, said the team had trouble focusing once they had a big lead.
Head coach Stephen Barrie said he wasn’t pleased with the team’s performance.
“[Saturday night] was a sloppy game,” he said. “You can always take something from it, but realistically, we’re putting this week behind us and moving forward.”
With fourth games remaining, the Gaels trail the York Lions by two points for the sixth and final playoff spot in the OUA East. They play the Lions in Toronto on Feb. 17.
Next weekend, the Gaels will host the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Friday and the undefeated Carleton Ravens on Saturday. Both games tip off at 8 p.m.
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