Title bout at home

Division banner, nationals berth on the line tomorrow

Tomorrow night, women’s basketball will play in their first division final in over a decade.

After beating the Toronto Varsity Blues 67-56 at the ARC last Saturday in the OUA East semi-final, Queen’s is set for a championship showdown.

Home court advantage in the division final favours the Gaels. Since Queen’s was the East’s top seed after the regular season, they’ll host the Carleton Ravens, who defeated the Ottawa Gee-Gees 57-39 in their semi-final.

The Gaels and Ravens split their regular season meetings. Queen’s narrowly lost 57-55 in their first matchup, but came away with a 63-58 win on Feb. 8. Gaels head coach Dave Wilson believes the playoff inexperience of the Ravens’ first-year starters will be a factor tomorrow.

“There’s obviously going to be nerves … for the younger players who haven’t experienced this,” Wilson said. “We’ll have some of the same issues. We’ll see who manages them better.”

The Gaels’ flexibility in scoring will be to their advantage against the Ravens.

Queen’s and the Regina Cougars are the only two teams in the country that have more than three scorers who average double-digits.

The Gaels shot an average of 37 per cent from three-point range against the Ravens during the regular season.

Wilson said his team will be psychologically prepared to face Carleton in the East final after defeating Toronto on Saturday. Up until last week, no player on the Gaels’ roster had ever beaten the Varsity Blues.

The last time the Gaels had won against their Toronto rival was on Jan. 8, 2010 at home. This year, they prevailed on the back of their aggressive defence, forcing the Blues to commit 22 turnovers.

Although the Gaels led throughout the contest, the Varsity Blues refused to go away, as they never trailed by double digits in the first three quarters.

After guard Liz Boag hit a three-pointer in the third quarter to give Queen’s a nine-point lead, Toronto’s Jill Stratton responded by nailing back-to-back threes in transition, shortening the Gaels’ lead to three heading into the fourth quarter.

The Gaels began to distance themselves with their fast-paced offence and stifling defence, holding the Blues to only six points in the final frame.

Gaels wing Jenny Wright contributed in every facet of the game with 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Half of her points came in the second quarter.

Wright said Queen’s win against the Varsity Blues proves they are confident in their own abilities.

“We have started to believe that we are number one for a reason,” she said.

Boag, who scored a game-high 21 points against Toronto, said this year’s playoff run feels differently than in the past because they no longer feel they are underdogs going in.

For many players on the Gaels’ roster, Saturday’s game was a long time coming.

“In the past, it was like ‘we have nothing to lose,’” Boag said. “Now, it feels like ‘no, we are the better team.’”

The Laurier Golden Hawks and Windsor Lancers will also face off tomorrow in the OUA West final. The division champions will play next week for the OUA title.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.