We’re two weeks into the men’s and women’s season and consistency continues to be the face on the back of the Queen’s basketball milk carton. The Gaels hit the 401 West last weekend, with each squad splitting its respective road games against Western and Windsor.
“There’s no magic to it but, frankly, we just aren’t as athletically gifted as most of our opponents. In that sense, we probably need to concentrate harder,” said men’s head coach Rob Smart on his squad’s inability to seal up close contests so far this season.
On Friday night, the men registered their first victory of the regular season against the Western Mustangs. But things don’t come easy in the OUA these days, and the Gaels had to grind out a 74-70 win.
Although the Gaels fell behind numerous times, veterans kept the team in it. Neal Dawson fell one rebound short of a double-double, tallying 24 points to go along with nine boards and two blocks. Jordan Balaban broke out for 22 points and six rebounds, hitting on three of his four attempts from beyond the arc.
“[Western] just didn’t defend us well in the post, and we were able to make some big shots that we simply haven’t been making,” Smart said. “It’s funny though—that was one of our weakest games of the season and we got the win. Sometimes it’s like trying to figure out a puzzle.”
The puzzle didn’t come together so easily for the Gaels on the following night against Windsor.
One might have expected an inspired effort from the Queen’s men, as they faced off against former coach Chris Oliver’s Lancers. Instead, the Gaels committed 19 turnovers and shot terribly from the free throw line, somehow managing to keep the score close before falling 65-54.
“The most frustrating thing about the turnovers is that Windsor wasn’t trapping or doing anything special defensively,” Smart said. “We were giving the ball up on our own most of the time.” In future games, Smart said, the Gaels don’t need to raise the level of their game, so much as sustain it. “We’ve been winning three quarters of every game,” Smart said. “Unfortunately, we’re just getting badly outscored in that other quarter, because there are some damn good teams in this league.”
Having split their own weekend contests, the women Gaels are also in search of that winning formula.
On Friday night, Queen’s took an early lead against the Western Mustangs, showing poise and patience against the high-pressure Western defence. The Mustangs responded with a run of their own, taking a 22-19 lead into the locker room.
Jessica Sellinger posted 13 points for Queen’s, who kept things close for the first 10 minutes of the second half. In the end, however, Western’s full court pressure and aggressive trapping caught up to the Gaels, who went on to lose 58-48.
One night later in Windsor, captain Claire Meadows and her teammates were much more determined. Twenty-four hours after having Western’s two-time all-star guard Julie Lamparski in her grill for 40 minutes, Meadows had a stellar Saturday night. The impressive stat line reads as such: 17 points, 14 rebounds and four steals.
Indeed, on this night, the Gaels never trailed after opening the game on a 10-0 run. Defensively, they were stifling—holding Windsor to just 21 per cent shooting—and eventually came out with a 51-36 victory, improving their record to 3-2.
So, as two divisional opponents come to Kingston this Friday and Saturday, both Gaels teams look to rediscover their consistency and sweep their first weekends of this young season.
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