Weekend split for Queen’s basketball

Men and women fall to Varsity Blues but bounce back to beat Rams

6’6’’ Queen’s forward Mitch Leger scores against 6’10’’ Ryerson centre Joseph Imbrogno.
6’6’’ Queen’s forward Mitch Leger scores against 6’10’’ Ryerson centre Joseph Imbrogno.

The men’s and women’s basketball teams returned to action with mixed results last weekend with games against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues and the Ryerson Rams.

Both Gaels’ squads lost against Toronto before a packed Bartlett Gym Friday, but rebounded to beat the Rams on Saturday night.

The women’s team started poorly against the Blues Friday, and trailed 22-13 after the first quarter. They outplayed and outscored Toronto in the second and fourth quarters and even took the lead briefly, but the early deficit and a strong third quarter from the Blues proved too much to overcome, as the Gaels lost 74-65.

Head coach Dave Wilson said the Gaels’ erratic performance aggravated him.

“What we’re seeing from our team is some of our capabilities, but we’re not seeing it over 40 minutes of the game,” he said. “You look at the second quarter and the fourth quarter and you say, ‘Yeah, OK, those are quarters you win.’ It’s frustrating for us that we’re just not there for that full 40 minutes.” Fifth-year forward Sarah Barnes led the Gaels with 25 points and six rebounds. After the loss, Barnes said the team needs to play with more intensity.

“We need to get a little more attitude and get a little more aggressive,” she said. “If you look at the girls on the team, everyone’s a very nice girl. Maybe we need a little more attitude.”

Barnes’ words would prove somewhat prophetic as a fired-up Gaels’ squad stormed to a 30-5 lead against Ryerson the next night. Inconsistency reared its ugly head again though, and the Rams narrowed the lead to only 11 points midway through the third quarter. The Gaels hung on for a 62-44 win, but Wilson was still unimpressed with the team’s play.

“Actually, I didn’t think we played as well today as we did yesterday,” he said. “I thought we started the ball game well, the first quarter was pretty sharp, and then a combination of a number of things took us out of rhythm and out of focus a bit. I thought we were pretty sloppy from there on out.”

Barnes and Anne Murphy tied for the team lead in scoring with 10 points each. Murphy also chipped in a game-high eight rebounds for the Gaels.

Murphy said concentration was more of an issue for the team in the Ryerson game.

“We weren’t quite as focused, I don’t think,” she said. “I think we played better overall last night, but came out with the win tonight.” The men’s team (5-3 going into the game) fell 70-60 to Toronto (6-2 before the game) Friday night in a game that could dictate playoff positioning.

Queen’s assistant coach Duncan Cowan said he was upset with the loss after Friday’s game, especially considering how important the game was.

“I think it was a pretty disappointing effort from us,” he said. “That was probably as big a game as you can get at this point in the year, in terms of where that fits into our schedule. It probably seals our fate a bit, in terms of trying to play for second.”

Mitch Leger had an outstanding weekend for the Gaels. He recorded 20 points and eight rebounds in the first game but was still unhappy with his and his team’s play.

“We sucked,” he said. “We didn’t come to play in the fourth quarter.”

Blues’ head coach Mike Katz said his team was playing at its best late in the game.

“The second half, I thought that was as well as we could play,” he said. “We beat a good Queen’s team in Kingston—that’s not easy to do.”

The Gaels defeated the Rams 79-74 the next night. Leger outshone Ryerson star Boris Bakovic, who led the OUA and was second in the CIS coming into the match, putting up 30 points and 12 rebounds to the 24 points and nine rebounds collected by the Rams’ forward.

Leger said it was special for him to beat Bakovic.

“He’s a big focus for every team that they play against, so it’s pretty nice to come out on top,” he said. “He got to the line a lot, hit some tough shots, but for the most part, we kept him in check.”

Rookie forward Nick DiDonato chipped in nine points and three rebounds for the Gaels while guarding Bakovic most of the way. He said it was a difficult assignment.

“Obviously it’s tough to guard him,” he said. “He’s 6’7’’, he goes in the post, he can shoot it. … I just tried to do my best to keep on him, stay up in front and not let him get the shot off.”

Head coach Rob Smart said he was disappointed with the weekend overall.

“We haven’t been playing very well,” he said. “Last night, we disappeared. We sort of attempted to do the same thing tonight. We made it a game instead of pulling away two or three times.”

This weekend, the teams take a long road trip to play the York Lions in Toronto and the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury.

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