Slow season opener

Subpar shooting sinks basketball against Thunderwolves

The Gaels kept things close, but dropped their season opener last Friday.

In a low-scoring affair, strong defence by both teams caused the lead to change hands several times before the Lakehead Thunderwolves beat Queen’s 54-51.

Head coach Stephan Barrie commended the Gaels’ defensive success.

“We just couldn’t get enough offence, unfortunately,” Barrie said. “I think it was a combination of tough defence and good offence that didn’t end up being rewarded.”

Queen’s struggled to connect on their shots, sinking just 20 of 62 field goal attempts. Still, Barrie said the poor shooting wasn’t cause for concern.

“There’s going to be nights when you don’t shoot as well and the reality is you have to have your defence set on those nights and we did,” he said. “We almost pulled off that game.”

The first quarter ended with the score knotted at 10-10, and the Gaels kept it close by halftime, trailing by only one point.

Queen’s outshot Lakehead in the fourth quarter and very nearly finished ahead, but couldn’t come back from the 46-37 deficit they faced heading into that frame.

“We went down nine at some point and in a low scoring game, that’s a big deficit,” Barrie said. “But we fought back to tie it and then we just weren’t able to get over the hump.”

Guard Greg Faulkner earned a double-double, putting up 15 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes of floor time.

Post Mike Shoveller added 12 points and six rebounds. Guards Dan Thompson and Cy Samuels contributed eight and seven points, respectively.

There was a disparity in free throw opportunities as Lakehead went to the foul line 30 times — 17 more than the Gaels. The Thunderwolves scored 16 points from the line, while Queen’s connected on less than 50 per cent of their chances.

“Both teams were aggressive so it’s not like we look back and say ‘well, we should’ve tried this to get on the line more,’” Barrie said.

Lakehead was also able to capitalize on second-chance opportunities — they earned 13 second-chance points while the Gaels didn’t tally any.

“They had more offensive rebounds than we did. We got some second-possession points but it wasn’t a critical factor in terms of our overall offence,” Barrie said.

The Gaels host the Waterloo Warriors (0-2) tonight in their home opener at the ARC. The men lost to the Warriors 74-70 during pre-season play. Last year’s regular season tilt went to the Gaels, who edged out the Warriors 61-57 in Waterloo.

The Laurier Golden Hawks (1-1) are in town tomorrow. For Queen’s to get the win in both contests, Barrie said the team will have to up the game’s tempo and, with it, the score.

“We’re going to look to push the ball more and get the flow of the game higher so we have more opportunities,” Barrie said. “I thought there was too few possessions overall in the game up in Thunder Bay.”

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