Men’s basketball defeats defending provincial champions

Record improves to 3-1

The men’s basketball team has carried their stellar pre-season play into the regular season. Last weekend on the road, the Gaels knocked off defending provincial champions McMaster by 11 points and defeated Lakehead by the same margin less than 24 hours later. With the two wins, Queen’s improves to 3-1 in the regular season.

“I don’t think our strategy was any different from any other game we play,” head coach Rob Smart said.

The Gaels were on the road after splitting their first two games at home. Last Friday, they knew they would have a tough game against McMaster, who was ranked 10th in Canada.

Smart said the Gaels prepare for all of their games the same way.

“It’s a tough league,” he said. “I think there are eight [Ontario-based] teams that could legitimately say that they should be in the top ten [in Canada].”

The game was a close contest through the first half, with the Gaels trailing by four at halftime.

But the Gaels were excellent from the three-point line in the second half, leading to their 75-64 comeback win.

Ryan Hairsine led the Gaels with 18 points, including four three-pointers. Of the 75 points scored, 45 were from beyond the arc.

“We tend to shoot a lot of threes,” Smart said. “But we don’t go out there to shoot threes. We run a lot of motion and take what they give us.”

With the upset win, Queen’s is starting to turn more heads in the league.

“I don’t think we’re all that bad of a basketball team,” Smart said. “We beat Cape Breton when people were talking about them being the number three pre-season team.

“The kids have to start believing in themselves and I think they are.”

The Gaels won their next game against Lakehead University a day later.

The score was close for the first half, but Queen’s pulled ahead with a 10-point run midway through the second half. Queen’s shot 41 per cent from beyond the arc, sinking 13 of their 32 three-point shots en route to the 68-57 win.

Simon Mitchell led the Gaels with 21 points, four assists and four rebounds. First-year Mitch Leger had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Queen’s 3-1 record is a sharp turnaround from last season when they were 1-3 after four games.

Coach Smart said that the game plan for the Gaels hasn’t changed from last season.

“I think that we were running a similar system, but it took longer to get it into place,” he said. “Last year, I couldn’t teach it fast enough.”

Smart also said the team has been working hard to get used to his system.

“We had six kids here working hard for most of the summer.”

Queen’s will host Western and Windsor next weekend. The Gaels will again be facing a nationally ranked team in the Windsor Lancers, who are currently ranked sixth in the country.

Smart said that he’s prepared for other teams in the league to start taking notice of Queen’s.

“Teams will start to prepare for us seriously,” he said. “What we run is probably different from what everyone else [in the league] runs,” he added. “I hope that it’ll be a problem for them. I don’t know. I think we’ve beaten teams differently.”

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