Gaels beat NCAA school

Men’s basketball defeats Division I Southern Alabama 102-94, but falls to three other American teams

Queen’s guard Dan Bannister drives against two Bulls Sunday.
Queen’s guard Dan Bannister drives against two Bulls Sunday.

The men’s basketball team tested its mettle against some American talent, contesting four preseason games last month against National Collegiate Athletic Association teams.

The men went one for four, beating the Division I South Alabama Jaguars 102-94 in a triple-overtime game in Ottawa Saturday, but losing 69-59 to the Division I Northeastern Huskies on Aug. 25, 91-72 to the Division III Anderson Ravens on Aug. 28 and 88-61 to the Buffalo Bulls in their final exhibition match on Sunday.

Queen’s head coach Rob Smart said the win over South Alabama, a team that earned a berth in last year’s NCAA Division I Basketball Championship, was a defining moment for his program.

“I don’t think you can explain how big beating South Alabama is,” he said. “Their coach is probably making half a million a year.”

Smart said the loss to Buffalo came because the team was tired from their triple-overtime win the day before.

“We played three overtimes yesterday, so I think that’s what went wrong,” he said. “I think we were exhausted. ... Every step, you’re a little slower and that just hurts you.”

Third-year forward Mitch Leger led the Gaels throughout the series, averaging 24 points and eight rebounds per game. Leger scored at least 20 points in every game.

Leger said playing NCAA schools is a good learning experience for the team, and he doesn’t think the Gaels’ calibre of play is much below that of the average Division I school.

“Obviously, we’re not going to beat the UNC [University of North Carolina]s and Kansases of the world, but there’s teams we can get close to,” he said.

Buffalo head coach Reggie Witherspoon said his team was impressed with Queen’s outside shooting. The Gaels made 42 per cent of their three-point attempts against Buffalo. They hit 47 per cent of their field-goal attempts to Buffalo’s 42 per cent.

Witherspoon said he was more impressed with the Gaels than he had been with the McMaster Marauders or the defending CIS champion Brock Badgers, the other CIS teams the Bulls had played on the trip before they faced Queen’s.

“This is the best opposition we’ve played,” he said, adding that he thinks CIS basketball doesn’t get enough credit south of the border.

“I think the quality of competition is really underrated,” he said. “It presents us with

a challenge.”

He said facing CIS teams is a great way to prepare his Bulls for their NCAA campaign.

“These teams are well-coached,” he said. “It’s tremendous preparation for us.”

NCAA regulations mean that all American college and university teams can only make one international off-season trip every four years. Witherspoon said he’d like to play Queen’s more often though.

“We’d love to do it every year.”

More exhibition results

•Kansas (defending NCAA champions) 84, Carleton 83
•Carleton 84, Buffalo Bulls 74
McGill 88, Virginia 83
•UBC 99, Cal State-Fullerton (Division I Big West Conference champions) 81
•Trinity Western 95, Colorado
State 83

—Andrew Bucholtz

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