Down & up at home

Gaels split against near-best and worst of OUA East

Nikola Misljencevic led Queen’s with 19 points against Ryerson, then added nine the next night against Toronto.
Nikola Misljencevic led Queen’s with 19 points against Ryerson, then added nine the next night against Toronto.

Men’s basketball found themselves on both sides of 20-point blowouts last weekend.

The Gaels fell to the Ryerson Rams 81-61 at home on Friday before topping the Toronto Varsity Blues 84-64 the next night.

The opening game of the home stand saw Queen’s (7-5) face a nationally fourth-ranked Rams squad whose size and athleticism caused headaches for the Gaels on both ends of the floor.

The Gaels’ offence was stymied by Ryerson (11-1), who blocked eight shots and forced 22 turnovers.

Rams guard Jahmal Jones torched the Gaels’ defence, pouring in a game-high 31 points and scoring in an array of ways, both inside and from beyond the three-point stripe.

Forward Nikola Misljencevic was tops on the score sheet for the Gaels with 19 points, while guard Sukhpreet Singh added 14 in the losing effort.

Gaels head coach Steph Barrie pointed to the team’s poor first-quarter performance, where they were outscored 25-10, as a reason for the loss, but wasn’t shy in giving credit to the Rams for their performance.

“Kudos to Ryerson for executing their game plan and having a good start,” Barrie said. “They’re a really talented team – there’s a reason why they’re number four in the country.”

Barrie said Ryerson’s talent and precise execution made it tough for the Gaels to compete with the Rams.

“When a team comes in with a lot of weapons like that it is hard to key in on just one very specific guy,” Barrie said. “The game plan on paper is one thing, but when you get to the game, if guys are making shots at a certain rate then you may have to go to something else, and that’s what happened tonight.”

The back end of the home series proved more forgiving for the Gaels, as they impressed in all facets of the game against the Varsity Blues (2-10).

Gaels forward Greg Faulkner had a huge bounce-back effort, shooting an astronomical 77 per cent from the floor and finishing with 37 points, after netting just five against the Rams. Guard Roshane Roberts did his part to secure the win with an impressive 14-point, six-rebound and five-assist effort.

Barrie lauded his team’s effort on defense, especially Faulkner’s effort in holding OUA leading scorer Alex Hill to 8-18 shooting in the game.

“[Hill is] a tough check and he has the ability to get in the lane and make perimeter shots,” Barrie said. “As much as Greg had a good offensive night, I think more important to him was the contribution defensively, and he made [Hill] work for everything he got.”

While the Gaels’ victory over Toronto was a strong rebound performance, it wasn’t an unexpected result for Queen’s players.

“I had no doubt we were going to bounce back,” Misljencevic said. “We’ve always been a tough group and after every loss we’ve shown resilience.”

Even though the Gaels steamrolled the Varsity Blues, Roberts wants to continue the winning ways and not slow down.

“We should never take breaks,” he said. “We can’t take anything for granted, and we have to keep playing this hard.”

The Gaels (7-5) head up north this weekend for an important matchup with OUA East foe Laurentian (7-4) Friday night, before taking on Algoma (3-8) Saturday. Both games get underway at 8 p.m.

OUA East Standings

1. Carleton [11-0]
2. Ryerson [11-1]
3. Ottawa [10-1]
4. Laurentian [7-4]
T5. Queen’s [7-5]
T5. York [7-5]
7. Algoma [3-8]
8. Toronto [2-10]

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