One for two

Veteran forward leads way in road split

Mackenzie Simpson kept up his scoring prowess on the road last weekend.

It was a split for the Gaels (3-1) on their most recent away swing, as they defeated the Western Mustangs 82-74 last Friday and dropped a 98-74 decision to the Windsor Lancers on Saturday.

The story of the weekend was the hot hand of Simpson, a fifth-year forward who currently ranks 10th in OUA scoring at 18.2 points per game. He deposited a season-high 26 in the win over Western (0-4).

Gaels head coach Stephan Barrie gave his top scorer praise, but was quick to point out the importance of team success over individual achievement.

“I’m really happy for Mack and look forward to his development this season,” Barrie said. “For us, it’s not important to have one player to play great to win — we want all our guys to play well, and some will play better on certain nights.”

On Friday, the Gaels took on a Mustangs team chomping at the bit to get back on the court after losing two blowouts to the powerful Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees the weekend before.

It was a hard-fought game, but the Gaels pulled away in the third quarter and had no problems closing out Western in their home opener.

Simpson led the scoring attack, while fourth-year guard Greg Faulkner hooped 16 points and added six assists.

Despite the result being closer than expected, Barrie was pleased to beat the winless Mustangs.

“I know that was a very good win for us in terms of what we had to face,” Barrie said. “Western was with their backs against the wall in their home opener, so we knew they were going to be a tough challenge.”

On Saturday, the Gaels faced an even tougher challenge in the über-athletic Windsor Lancers (2-2), who are ranked seventh in the nation.

Queen’s was outscored 25-5 in the first quarter, but finished strong, topping the Lancers 51-50 in the second half.

Simpson had a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds, while second-year guard Sukhpreet Singh chipped in with 16 points and 11 helpers in the losing effort.

“Windsor is one of the top teams in the nation and, athletically, they’re probably top two or three in the country,” Barrie said. “We certainly did not stop playing and when you’re down a good chunk at the end of a long road trip, it is something you have to fight against.

“Our guys did a good job of finishing the game off properly.”

With seven players reaching double-digit minutes against the Mustangs and nine doing so against the Lancers, the Gaels have no shortage of depth this season.

Barrie believes this has contributed to Queen’s success so far.

“Last year when we recruited all those guys, our plan was to play 10 guys every game,” he said. “The good part is that builds chemistry and makes sure everyone is relying on each other to be successful.”

After four games, the Gaels boast a 3-1 record and are slotted behind Carleton, Ottawa and the Laurentian Voyageurs in the OUA East, who are all at an undefeated 4-0.

The Gaels will take on the Laurier Golden Hawks (2-2) and the Waterloo Warriors (0-3) on the road tonight and tomorrow.

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