Men’s basketball sputters past Paladins

Win over winless RMC secures home-court advantage for first round of playoffs

Gaels' guard Baris Ondul climbs over RMC guard James Byun during Saturday's 83-70 win over the Paladins.
Gaels' guard Baris Ondul climbs over RMC guard James Byun during Saturday's 83-70 win over the Paladins.
Credit: 
Supplied photo by Galit Rodan
Guard Ryan Hairsine led the Gaels with 23 points against the Royal Military College Paladins on Saturday night.
Guard Ryan Hairsine led the Gaels with 23 points against the Royal Military College Paladins on Saturday night.
Credit: 
Supplied photo by Galit Rodan

Sunday, Feb. 21 - 11:48 p.m.
The men's basketball team played their final game of the regular season on Friday, beating the Royal Military College Paladins 80-73 at the ARC.

With starting forward Mitch Leger sitting out the game to rest and prepare for the Gaels' playoff run, fifth-year guard Ryan Hairsine led the way scoring a season-high 23 points.

The Gaels struggled from the very beginning, scraping to a 21-19 first-quarter lead against the last-place Paladins.

"We just didn't come out with any intensity at all," head coach Rob Smart said. "They played like they wanted it."

The second quarter was no better, with the Gaels finishing the half tied 30-30 with the 0-22 Paladins.
"They've got some talent," Smart said. "They played hard. It's their last game, and we came out pretty flat. We didn't play great, but we got through it."

The Gaels were faced with losing a playoff game at home with a loss to RMC, Smart said.
The Gaels outscored to Paladins to finish the third quarter up 58-40.

"I think we played with a little bit of energy, and we only did it for about 10 minutes and we got away with it," Smart said.

"We refocused," Hairsine said. "We just didn't take advantage of the opportunities they gave us [in the first half]. We had wide-open looks, and we didn't hit shots. That's the bottom line—we just shot poorly. We could have built up a lead and we didn't take advantage of that."

The resurgent Paladins had a 20-7 run to open the final frame, narrowing the Gaels' lead to five with four minutes remaining. The Gaels retained a slight edge until a three-pointer from second-year forward Ozren Opacic put the game out of reach with one minute remaining.

Smart said the team should treat this game as a call to action.

"Maybe it's a wakeup call," he said. "I hope we don't show up like this in a playoff game."
Hairsine said the team has preparations to make for the playoffs.

"We wanted to use it as a stepping stone to the playoffs, and it's evident that we still have a lot of stuff to work on in the next four days to prepare for Wednesday.”

He said success for the Gaels will mean adjusting their mindset.

"There were ups and downs, but I think we're happy with where we are. We're not going to dwell too much on losses or big wins, because it ultimately doesn't matter anymore. We need to be a lot sharper and bring a lot more energy, and hopefully that starts tomorrow when we practice.

The Gaels open the playoffs on Wednesday when they host the Ryerson Rams at the ARC.

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