Men’s basketball top Lions & Voyageurs at the ARC

Leger fourth in points and first in rebounds in CIS after weekend wins

Gaels guard Baris Ondul sails toward the bucket during the Gaels’ 87-81 win over the Laurentian Voyageurs on Friday.
Gaels guard Baris Ondul sails toward the bucket during the Gaels’ 87-81 win over the Laurentian Voyageurs on Friday.
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The men’s basketball team opened their Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) career this weekend with a pair of wins over the Laurentian Voyageurs and York Lions.

On Friday the Gaels took on the Voyageurs and came out on top of an 87-81 decision.

The Gaels held the lead throughout the game, pulling to an early lead and finishing the first quarter up 22-17.

The Gaels continued to outscore the Voyageurs in the second quarter, finishing the half with a 43-35 lead.

The third quarter was much of the same, with the Gaels leading by 67-54 going into the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, Laurentian made a run on the Gaels, closing their lead to five points with less than two minutes left to play. The Voyageurs’ comeback was not enough to overtake the Gaels’ lead, though, and Queen’s scraped out with a victory.

Head coach Rob Smart said his team gave Laurentian too many chances.

“I think any time you have a chance to put a game away, and you keep letting the other team back in, at some point they’re going to hit a couple shots.”

Fourth-year forward Mitch Leger led the team with 24 points and 16 rebounds. Fifth-year guard Baris Ondul added 17 points and second-year forward Ozren Opacic added 13.

Smart said the team has the potential to compete at a much higher level and needs to perfect their free-throw shooting.

The Gaels went 11 for 25 from the line.

“I really feel that we’re close to getting to the next level, and we keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said.

Saturday’s game started on a more somber note. Named the Marco W. Alessio Memorial Game in memory of Marco William Alessio, a former Queen’s basketball player who died on Feb 23, 2009 in Madagascar. A scholarship was established in Alessio’s memory, and was presented to guard Dan Bannister by former Gaels basketball player Tom Cavanagh, who travelled from New Zealand to make the appearance.

Leger had another colossal game on Saturday, leading the Gaels to a successful comeback over the York Lions.

York started the game on an uncontested 10-0 run that was finally interrupted at 7:00 by a layup from third-year guard Timothy Boyle. Leger then began to show his presence, scoring the next 10 points for the Gaels, en route to a 20-16 deficit at the end of the first quarter.

The Gaels continued to cut into the Lions’ lead in the second quarter, finishing the half with a slight 33-31 edge.

“We shot the ball poorly and good shooters shot it poorly in the first half,” assistant coach Duncan Cowan said.

After an exciting third quarter, the teams came into the final frame evenly matched 48-48. The Gaels built up an insurmountable lead in the fourth, besting the Lions 71-62.

Leger totaled 26 points and 16 rebounds for the night, putting him fourth in the country for points and first in the country for rebounds. Third-year guard Dan Bannister added another 11 points.

Bannister said the team only began to show their potential in the fourth.

“We hit our shots, for one,” he said. “And we played defence for five minutes. We can’t let teams get up on us like that.” The Gaels played both the Lions and the Voyageurs on the road two weeks ago, and Bannister said that experience set them up well to play again.

“We’ve played them, but they’ve played us by the same line,” he said. “So coming into the game, both teams are familiar with each other. It’s about execution when the team knows what you’re running.” Cowan said the team can perform at a higher level.

“We played just well enough to win,” he said. “We’ve shown in flashes that we can be very good [but] consistency is the hardest thing and [it’s] important to be successful with the top teams in this league.”

The men’s basketball team travels to Toronto this weekend to take on Ryerson and the University of Toronto.

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