Basketball comes home

Women host Ravens to open playoffs tomorrow

The Gaels trounced the RMC Paladins 75-50 on Wednesday.
The Gaels trounced the RMC Paladins 75-50 on Wednesday.

The Queen’s women’s basketball team closed out its regular season on a high note this week, walking all over its crosstown rival from RMC for a decisive win to carry them into the playoffs.

The men’s team, despite similar performances, will soon be clearing out their lockers and looking for ways to improve next year.

The women had a tough weekend, entering with a 10-9 record and looking to move up in the playoff rankings. Their first test was against the York Lions, who ended the regular season tied with Brock for top spot in Ontario, and the Gaels were not up to it. Queen’s scored a measly 31 points, including a 12-point first half, against a total of 58 from York.

The offensive futility was spread across the Gaels’ roster, as no player managed to eclipse six points in the game. The loss dropped Queen’s to 10-10, and opened the door for the Carleton Ravens to sneak ahead of them into the fourth spot and grab home-court advantage to open the playoffs.

The following night, the women’s team faltered again, dropping a close contest to the Laurentian Voyageurs by a score of 65-60. The Gaels picked up where they left off against York offensively, failing to net a single point in the first five minutes of play. After that they caught fire, however, salvaging 25 points in the remainder of the half and even briefly holding the lead in the second frame.

Queen’s received big-time offensive play in the game from Sarah Barnes and Jessica Selinger with 18 and 14 points respectively. Claire Meadows, a multiple winner of Journal Athlete of the Week accolades, had a characteristically strong performance with 11 points, five rebounds and seven assists in 30 minutes of play.

Finally, on Tuesday night, Queen’s got a dose of just what the doctor ordered when the 0-21 RMC Paladins came to town. They capitalized on their weaker opponents, earning a convincing 59-38 win. The team posted a more balanced attack than RMC, as eight of their 10 players managed to get on the scoreboard. Meadows again led the charge with 16 points and 10 rebounds. By contrast, 24 of RMC’s 38 points were scored by two players, Jennifer Donofrio and Anna Dupuis.

The win brought the team up to .500 with an 11-11 record. All was not decided, however, as home-court advantage for the OUA East quarterfinal was still up for grabs. Queen’s got a favour from the Ottawa Gee-Gees, however, who beat the Carleton Ravens to drop Carleton into fifth and secure the fourth and final home-court spot for Queen’s.

Head coach Dave Wilson said that his team is in for a tough game tomorrow.

“[The Ravens are] tough—they handled us pretty easily last time we played them,” he said. “They have a good mix of inside-out, and a good post-game.”

Wilson added that Queen’s has a couple of particular aspects of their game to focus on.

“There are two things that are critical for us: take care of the boards, and take care of the ball,” he said.

He also said that the problem of consistency which has plagued the Gaels of late is a dangerous thing to take into the playoffs.

“We need to get back into a bit of a groove,” he said. “We’ve played reasonably well, but we haven’t played consistently this term. [Our playoff aspirations are] probably the same as everyone else’s. Just win everything and we’ll be fine.”

They will host the Ravens tomorrow at Bartlett Gym at 2 p.m.

The men’s team’s weekend followed an almost identical trajectory, minus the playoff aspirations. Coming in at 4-14, the team’s hopes had essentially expired, and two weekend losses solidified that feeling.

On Friday, the men travelled to Toronto to face the York Lions in what turned out to be a high-scoring game. York is a playoff team, sitting fourth in the OUA East. Simon Mitchell poured in 20 points along with Alex Liang’s 10 points and four assists, and Jordan Balaban’s nine points and six rebounds. Tut Ruach led the assault for York with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. When the dust had settled, York came out on top with an 83-76 victory.

The loss dropped the team to 4-15 on the season, and the Gaels travelled to Sudbury the next day, looking for redemption against the Laurentian Voyageurs. They didn’t find it, however, as they fell 65-56 in a hard-fought game. Mitchell and Balaban had strong efforts once more, posting 12 and 10 points respectively, but this time veteran Cameron Eby led the way with 14. This was the team’s second straight game without centre Neal Dawson in the lineup, and his talents were missed, both in terms of scoring ability and presence in the paint.

On Wednesday night, the Gaels returned home to Bartlett Gym to host the winless RMC Paladins, who sat at a lowly 0-20. As they expected, the Gaels got back on track against the much weaker RMC squad, cruising to a 75-50 win.

Queen’s coach Rob Smart, who was acting as interim head coach this year and has been rehired for next season, took the opportunity to play everyone on his bench extensively, making frequent substitutions. Only one of the 12 Queen’s players in the game was held pointless, and each player spent at least 10 minutes on the court.

Queen’s was again without their tower in the middle in Dawson, and instead played a good perimeter game. The Gaels dropped nine three-pointers in the game, and guard Kyle McCleery led the way with 13 points. RMC received good performances from Doug Priestly and Nathan Tucker, but their team lacked the depth to go toe-to-toe with the Queen’s squad.

The men’s team has one more game left, also against RMC on Saturday at 8 p.m. at RMC. The Paladins will be trying to avoid mimicking their female counterparts in a winless season, while the Gaels will be trying to add one more win to their 5-16 record, which is already a significant step back from last year’s 11-11 campaign.

Smart said he thinks the team was better than the previous year despite the less impressive record.

“We lost eight or nine games in the last minute or minute and a half, so I think we’re close to a lot of teams,” he said. “I think we’re a much better team, but we’re in a much better league, that’s all.”

Smart was alluding to the fact that the level of competition in the division has escalated this season.

“It’s a product of Carleton winning national championships, and everyone worked really hard to get better,” he said.

Smart also said that there is the possibility that several players who logged significant minutes could be gone from the team, as they are graduating or in graduate programs, and that therefore the team will recruit vigorously for next season in case.

“We are trying hard to win, and I think we’re very close,” he said.

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