Eastern supremacy

Thrilling finish to division final has Gaels on road to nationals

The Gaels withstood a last-second, game-tying shot to win in overtime and clinch their first division championship since 2003.
The Gaels withstood a last-second, game-tying shot to win in overtime and clinch their first division championship since 2003.
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Rookie forward Andrea Priamo (#14) bowled over a Ravens defender for a layup in the title-clinching game at the ARC.
Rookie forward Andrea Priamo (#14) bowled over a Ravens defender for a layup in the title-clinching game at the ARC.
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Liz Boag and Jenny Wright combined for 33 of Queen’s 62 points, sending the ARC’s sellout crowd into a frenzy.
Liz Boag and Jenny Wright combined for 33 of Queen’s 62 points, sending the ARC’s sellout crowd into a frenzy.
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Queen’s was 0.4 seconds from a division title. After overtime, they won it anyway.

The Gaels are OUA East champions, grounding the Carleton Ravens 62-58 last Saturday and winning an intense, wire-to-wire game befitting of a playoff finals match.

The ARC was sold out of tickets for the game, which was the first division final for the Gaels since 2003. With the win, Queen’s automatically qualified for the CIS championships, which take place March 14-16 in Windsor.

2003 was also the last time they made an appearance at nationals.

Before that, the Gaels will meet the reigning provincial champion, the Windsor Lancers, tomorrow night to compete for OUA gold.

Head coach Dave Wilson said he believed his team was capable of going this far. He pegged the Gaels as the second-best team in the league in pre-season polls.

“There’s an opportunity that has never been here before,” he said, recounting a message he told his players earlier in the season.

“We need to seize that opportunity. If you don’t see it, we need to enlighten you.”

The Gaels lost 82-56 to the Lancers on Nov. 9, but Queen’s has won nine consecutive games dating back to Jan. 25.

Wilson said Windsor is the most talented team in the country and admits they’re better than the Gaels.

“If we were to going to play 100 times in the next 300 days, we would probably lose in the upper nineties to them,” Wilson said. “But we’re wanting to see who’s better on Saturday.”

Last Saturday, the Gaels did just enough to squeak past Carleton in their most enthralling game of the season.

The Ravens relinquished a lead in the second half after being ahead by as much as eight points in the third quarter. The Gaels steadily mounted a comeback in the fourth, pulling ahead after two free throws from wing Jenny Wright.

With eight seconds left on the clock and the Gaels up by three, the ball found its way into the hands of Ravens rookie McKenzie Sigurdson. Against a textbook Gaels defence, Sigurdson heaved a buzzer-beating three-pointer that tied the game with 0.4 seconds left.

Ravens head coach Taffe Charles threw himself onto the scorer’s table in incredulity after Sigurdson’s shot went in.

The Gaels were nonplussed, but remained composed.

“We have a motto: We don’t lose in overtime,” said guard Liz Boag. “That’s our period. That’s our time.”

Overtime was equally competitive and saw both teams exchange leads throughout. After a crucial steal and basket by guard Emily Hazlett, the Gaels took a five-point lead with 20 seconds left.

Their cushion was quickly cut after a three-pointer from Carleton’s Elizabeth Roach. Shortly after, wing Meaghan MacDougall showed veteran poise by icing the game for Queen’s with two made free throws.

The Gaels scored 14 points in the five-minute overtime, matching their highest-scoring quarter.

Boag had difficulty scoring all game, shooting 3-19 from the field, but managed to finish with 15 points. Wright nearly registered a double-double in her finals debut, scoring 18 points and collecting nine rebounds.

Roach, who is playing her final year as a Raven, scored 27 points. She netted 14 consecutive points in the second quarter, while the rest of her teammates combined for just two.

Carleton will host the Laurier Golden Hawks tomorrow afternoon for the OUA’s third and final nationals berth, while the Gaels and Lancers will tip off at 7 p.m. in Windsor for the league title.

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