Five straight to lead the way

Gaels kick off 2014 with home win over York, grab first place in OUA East

The Gaels are finally healthy and winning.

The past few years have been difficult for women’s basketball, who often charged into games with a depleted roster due to injuries. This year, their injuries have been minimized and their talents are on full display.

They currently lead the OUA East division with a 7-3 record, ahead of both the Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens, after defeating the York Lions last Saturday 74-61.

Guard Emily Hazlett scored a team-high 18 against the Lions, as four other Gaels reached double digits in points. Post Robyn Pearson snagged 17 rebounds and added 14 points for her third double-double of the season.

The win, their second straight over York, has Queen’s on a five-game winning streak.

Confidence has been running high among the players on the team. Captain Liz Boag said the Gaels’ goal prior to the start of the season was to be one of the top two teams in the East.

“We always knew we were capable of doing [it],” Boag said. “It’s not a surprise, but a payoff from our hard work.”

Coach Dave Wilson expected this level of success from his team earlier in the season, barring injuries.

“It was a question of how long it was going to take to gel and whether or not we will be healthy,” Wilson said. “Those were … the biggest questions we had probably in the last four or five years, with health being the biggest one.”

The Gaels have played against two nationally ranked teams this season — the McMaster Marauders and the Brock Badgers — and won both contests.

The team has been helped by the off-season acquisitions of rookies Abby Dixon and Andrea Priamo, both of whom have been extremely productive and serviceable since the beginning of the season.

“We had pretty good expectations for two of the rookies playing significant minutes,” Wilson said. “[Priamo] has probably exceeded my expectations for a first year player more than anything.”

Second-years Pearson and Hazlett have also brought more to the team.

Pearson is currently one of the top 10 rebounders in the country, sitting ninth among all CIS players with 10.1 rebounds per game.

The second half of the season is going to be more difficult for the Gaels, as teams in their division have gotten better. The Ryerson Rams acquired NCAA Division I player Mariah Nunes from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues have found their stride after winning their past four games.

However, if the Gaels keep their current pace, a deep playoff run will be in their sights.

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