Northern success

After this weekend’s games, the Gaels are 3-0, good for first in the OUA East.

After this weekend’s games, the Gaels are 3-0, good for first in the OUA East.
After this weekend’s games, the Gaels are 3-0, good for first in the OUA East.
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Women’s basketball went on a northern Ontario road trip this past weekend, winning both Friday and Saturday’s games against Laurentian and Nipissing. These wins set the Gaels off to a good start for the season, having a clean 3-0 record.  

While the Gaels defeated Laurentian 61-51 on Friday, the game wasn’t the same scale of victory as was the final outcome. About halfway through the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 47 — a score that surprised head coach Dave Wilson. 

“We are one of the top teams in the league and in the country,” Wilson said. “That tie in the fourth quarter, that was quite a let down for us. We would like to think that we had been able to create a better separation in that game.” 

The Gaels’ poor shooting on the night was a worry that Wilson was well aware of. 

“We’ve struggled just getting the ball to fall through,” he said. “When you’re not scoring, it does statistically provide a better opportunity for the opposition to score.” 

However, the Gaels bounced back, going on a 12-point run to win the game. A major factor for this turnaround was the Gaels’ ability to hit shots. On this run, the team shot 5 for 8 to close out the game. 

“We’d like to have more of those runs,” Wilson added. 

On Saturday, the Gaels produced a landslide victory against Nipissing, winning 71-42. The game involved a steady performance from the Gaels’ bench, and was certainly helped by Nipissing’s 30 turnovers. 

At the end of the first quarter, the game was tied at 17. However, with a 36-27 lead going into the half, the Gaels ran away with the win, with only 15 points against in the second half.

“That’s where the majority of the turnovers came,” Wilson said. “We turned up the pressure in the second half considerably.” 

Building off of lessons from last week’s game, the Gaels are converting off of their turnovers much better.

“We’re top three in the country in steals, but our conversion as a result of that has been lacking a little bit,” Wilson said. 

A main catalyst to this conversion was guard Emily Hazlett, who picked the ball clean, giving her the opportunity for multiple breakaway layups. 

The Gaels’ bench outscored Nipissing's 31-3. Wilson was pleased with his backups’ performance, praising its depth. 

“It’s a long season and grinding, but ultimately any team in the league can put together a pretty good starting five,” he said. “Then it’s a question of what your second unit can do against their second unit, or a fresh second unit against their tired first unit.” 

Another important aspect of a deep bench is versatility in the roster. With different players, there’s availability to assign each player to a certain role, and this certainly came to play with Robyn Pearson’s 18 rebounds against Laurentian and 18 points and 12 rebounds against Nipissing. 

“That’s Robyn,” exclaimed Wilson. “She prides herself on being one of the best rebounders in the league.” 

There are challenges when playing away from home, but at Laurentian these challenges take a turn for the bizarre, as some Voyageur fans smash kitchen pots together behind the opposing teams’ bench. 

“We have expected the pot-bangers to be on site,” Wilson said. “There have been times when we need to take timeouts at centre court, just to get away from the noise.” 

To prepare for dealing with the pot-bangers, coach Wilson devised strategies to help his players avoid getting distracted by the rowdy fans.

Luckily for the Gaels, the pot-bangers didn’t show up.  

This weekend, the Gaels host the McMaster Marauders (3-2) on Friday and the Brock Badgers (1-1) on Saturday, in the first match-ups of the year against these two teams.

 

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