Nationwide clash in Windsor

Sixth-seeded Gaels will face Saskatchewan this afternoon in CIS opener

Queen’s win over Carleton in the OUA East semi-finals earned them a berth to nationals this weekend. They play the Saskatchewan Huskies today in the first round.
Queen’s win over Carleton in the OUA East semi-finals earned them a berth to nationals this weekend. They play the Saskatchewan Huskies today in the first round.

This weekend’s women’s basketball national championships will give Queen’s a chance for redemption.

After losing 73-48 to the Windsor Lancers in last Saturday’s OUA title game, the Gaels will tip off again today in Windsor — this time, in the CIS quarterfinals.

Last weekend’s loss means they finished with an OUA silver medal and a sixth seed at nationals. At 3 p.m., the Gaels will take on the third-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies, with a place in the national Final Four on the line.

The pre-season was the last time the Gaels met the Huskies. They lost 68-33 in a lopsided October exhibition, a game they played without star guard Liz Boag.

Ever since, Gaels head coach Dave Wilson has looked forward to facing the Huskies again.

“I liked our matchups and, I think for us as a younger team in October, our growth has been significant,” Wilson said. “Our ability to believe in ourselves has grown so much that we’re in a much better place to be successful now.”

Wilson said he believes his team can upset the Huskies, who won this season’s Canada West championship.

The Gaels’ biggest challenge will be containing Saskatchewan’s Dalyce Emmerson, the Canada West player of the year and defensive player of the year this season. Emmerson is a 6’3” post that averaged 19.2 points and 11.6 rebounds during the regular season.

It’ll be a similar challenge to the OUA final, where Windsor overwhelmed Queen’s early.

The Gaels weren’t prepared for the Lancers’ early assault, as Windsor quickly jumped ahead with a 15-2 run. The Lancers’ commanding first-quarter lead put the game out of reach, as the Gaels trailed by double-digits throughout the game.

Wilson said he and his coaching staff are to blame for his team’s poor start.

“I don’t think we prepared [the players] well for the intensity of Windsor’s pressure right off the start, and I think that was an oversight,” he said.

Boag had a strong night after shaking off early jitters in the first quarter, where she shot 1-4 from the field and committed all five of her turnovers. She ended the game with 17 points on 6-14 shooting.

Wilson said the game bore importance for Boag heading into nationals.

“Liz had been struggling with her outside shooting prior to [the Windsor] game,” Wilson said. “It was really important for her psychologically to feel good about shooting the ball game and it’ll lend itself really well going into this weekend.”

Gaels wing Jenny Wright had a scary moment when she suffered a minor hyperextension of her knee in the third quarter. She walked off on her own and came back in the fourth quarter to finish the game with 17 points and four rebounds.

Wing Gemma Bullard was unable to find her rhythm in the game, finishing with just a single point and fouling out by the fourth quarter.

Windsor, the top seed at nationals, is favoured to win their fourth straight CIS title this weekend.

One reason is star post player Jessica Clémencon, who had 21 points and eight rebounds and shot 75 per cent from the floor against Queen’s.

Gaels post Andrea Priamo said Clémencon is the best player she has ever played against.

“She’s actually a really talented player and she’s not easy to guard,” Priamo said. “We did all we could to prepare for her.”

Windsor will face the eighth-seeded Laurier Golden Hawks this evening, right after Queen’s tilt with Saskatchewan.

Winners of the four first-round games will advance to tomorrow’s semi-finals, while the losers are relegated to the consolation bracket.

The Road to Nationals

Jan. 25, 2014

Jenny Wright tallied eight of the Gaels’ 14 overtime points to carry Queen’s past the nationally tenth-ranked Gee-Gees. The victory kick-started a nine-game win streak.

FEB. 8, 2014

In their final home game of the season, a 63-58 victory over Carleton ensured the Gaels at least a spot in the OUA East semi-finals. Liz Boag’s three-pointer with 28 seconds left gave Queen’s all the advantage they needed.

MARCH 1, 2014

Forced into overtime by a game-tying three-pointer, the Gaels held strong, winning 62-58 and taking the OUA East title. A pair of free throws by guard Meaghan MacDougall iced the game and sent Queen’s to nationals.

Sean Sutherland

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