Last Saturday, the men’s basketball team made an improbable comeback to win the second leg of a back-to-back weekend series against Waterloo and Laurier.
Down 13 points to Laurier with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Gaels needed a miracle to force overtime. They got one, and his name is Harry Range.
Laurier was ahead in this game early and often—they jumped out to a nine-point lead early on in the first, and still led by five as the quarter drew to a close.
But as time threatened to expire, sophomore Cameron Bett corralled a defensive rebound, spun away from a Hawk, and with a second on the clock, heaved a shot down the court from his own three-point line.
Every eye in the building was glued to the ball as it arced through the air. The buzzer sounded, the ball banked directly into the net, and the crowd went nuts. The Gaels went into the second quarter down by only one possession.
In the second frame, Queen’s started to click. Laurier, however, refused to relent. After a lot of back and forth, Queen’s headed into the locker room at halftime up 43-41.
The Gaels came out firing in the second half, pumping in 11 straight points. But not long thereafter, the Golden Hawks went on a scoring spree of their own to even things back up, and eventually take back the lead. Heading into the final quarter, the score was 64-63 in favour of Laurier.
The first half of the fourth quarter was bleak for the Gaels. Laurier went on a 15-3 run, which gave them a commanding 13-point lead with 5:42 left in the game.
Just when they needed it the most, the Gaels rediscovered their mojo. Their smothering defence electrified the crowd—chants for “D-FENCE” flooded the court, and Laurier was missing everything.
The offence was rejuvenated—Range and rookie Luka Syllas caught fire down the stretch, combining for 15 points as the Gaels stormed back into the game.
Range scored late to bring the Gaels within two, and a missed three-pointer by Laurier gave Queen’s a chance to tie. With around 30 seconds left, Range dropped his shoulder and drove to the net, pump-faked, and hooked a shot towards the basket. The ball bounced once, twice, and fell through the bottom, sending the Gaels to overtime and the crowd to its feet.
Heading into OT, the score was 83 all. Range kept bullying the Hawks in the paint, scoring five of Queen’s six points in overtime. However, the story in the extra frame was the Gaels’ defence: they stifled Laurier, holding the Hawks to four points, and none in the final 2:45 of play, to ultimately claim an exhilarating 89-87 win.
“We are going to outwork you. We are going to be relentless,” Assistant Coach John Curcio told The Journal after the game. “We have one word: G-R-I-T (gratitude, resilience, improvement and teamwork). Our whole philosophy, right on our door in the locker room in big letters.”
“An emphasis for us all year has been defense and rebounding. Tonight (Saturday) specifically, we had a very good rebounding game. It was a close game, back and forth with two good teams and defensively, we were able to stop them and control the rebounds which was huge,” Assistant Coach John Curcio told The Journal.
Thanks to the clutch win, the Gaels are just one game back of Laurentian for third place in the OUA East.
The homestand had originally tipped off on Friday evening against Waterloo. After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Gaels took command in the second. Cole Syllas set the tone with a three-pointer to open the quarter, and more points came immediately afterwards off of a steal by Bruno Chan. The Gaels’ lead had grown to 45-25 at the half.
Both the defense and offense were firing on all cylinders—Queen’s was thrifty, racking up 22 steals, and do-it-all freshman Luka Syllas earned himself another double-double. The game ended 79-46 in the Gaels’ favour.
The Gaels will stay home this weekend, playing host to the Laurentian Voyageurs on Friday in a game that has significant playoff seeding implications. They also play Nipissing on Saturday.
With files from Alina Yusufzai.
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