The men’s basketball team fought past the Nipissing Lakers in round one of the OUA playoffs on Wednesday, beating the North-Bay enclave 69-59 in front of a packed crowd in the ARC’s main gym.
Notching their first playoff win of the year, the Gaels will now face the uOttawa Gee-Gees in Round Two of the playoffs on Saturday. The Gaels are 0-2 against the second-seeded Gee-Gees this year, with the second of their two bouts ending in overtime in February.
Head coach Stephan Barrie spoke to The Journal about Wednesday night’s matchup after the game.
“We knew we knew that [Nipissing] were going to be a team that wasn’t going to go away. […] they’re just the kind of team that just you know, has fought and fought and fought.”
Occupying the three-seed and having beaten the Lakers in both of their previous meetings this season, the Gaels were favoured heading into Wednesday’s showdown.
Opening the first quarter with solid perimeter shooting, the Gaels went up by 11 heading into the second frame, where Nipissing would eventually to cut their lead to 3 before the half.
In the second half, Queen’s again had to fend off a resurging Lakers team, who came within 1-point of the Gaels twice in the third quarter. Never relinquishing their lead, however, Queen’s slowly eked out a comfortable edge in the final quarter, icing the game with a 10-point surplus to send them on to the next round.
“You have to give them a lot of credit,” Barrie said, discussing the opposing team’s performance. “They have a lot of grit and a lot of toughness.”
“For us, we just have to get a few things fine-tuned […] The second quarter was kind of where we got to fix. But you know, we were missing guys tonight.”
Third year guards Luka Syllas and Cameron Bett were off the roster due to injuries, with first-year Sebastian Campbell filling in for them.
The Journal also spoke to Quinton Gray, the fifth year starting guard, about the game.
“Our saying all year has been ‘grit’, you know, just ‘stay gritty, it’s not always pretty’ just like today’s game.”
“Shots were falling early, but later in the game, we just had to rely on hard work rebounding them,” he said.
A member of the Gaels since 2017-18, Gray is in his final season of eligibility with the team. With Queen’s being the lower seed for their next matchup — and will be thereafter, should they advance — Wednesday’s game against the Lakers was his final home game of his Queen’s career.
“Playing at Queen’s is amazing.” Gray said, reflecting on his time at the university. “It’s [been] really special to play here, and all my teammates all the way through. There’s been a lot of different guys from start to finish that I’ve learned from.”
“It’s just been a really, really important part of my life, playing at Queens.”
Looking forward to this Saturday, Gray and Barrie both acknowledged that uOttawa would set a high bar, but they’re up for the challenge.
“I expect another great game, and a tough one, for sure,” Gray said.
Tip-off is at 7 p.m. in Ottawa this Saturday.
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