Heartbreaker at the ARC

Men's basketball lose to Rams on last-second shot

Mark Paclibar carries the ball upcourt. He picked up five defensive rebounds in Friday's loss.
Mark Paclibar carries the ball upcourt. He picked up five defensive rebounds in Friday's loss.
Journal File Photo

After a rolling layup with five seconds to spare edged Queen’s one point ahead of the Ryerson Rams, the Gaels looked all but in the clear.

Sukhpreet Singh’s layup was the eighteenth time the teams had traded the lead over the course of the game on Friday. 

But the tension on the court only grew thicker, as an Adika Peter McNeilly three-pointer stole the lead back for the third-ranked Rams, setting the men back on their heels with less than a second on the clock.

In a heave of desperation and hope, Tanner Graham took a shot, only for it to bounce off the rim and hand the Gaels a 70-68 defeat, their third straight loss.

Head coach Stephan Barrie credited the loss to a shortfall of composure and execution in the final minutes.

“One thing I’m not disappointed about is the last shot — it was an incredible shot,” he said. “[Our problem] was a lack of focus and a lack of understanding [of] what our principles are. When you slip up, albeit for two plays, you can pay — and they made us pay.”

A bright spot for the men was their stingy defensive showcase against an otherwise explosive offence. The Gaels managed to hold the Rams, who average about 90 points per game, to a meagre 70 points — a feat beat only once this season.

Singh led all scorers with 23 points on the night. Five missed free throws came back to bite Queen’s, as they converted just 61 per cent of their 13 foul shots.

The men closed the season on a high note on Saturday, topping the Toronto Varsity Blues 81-73, and securing themselves a home playoff berth for the first time in six years.

The Gaels are eager to prove their worth and keep the season alive, with their first round in the OUA playoffs on Wednesday night against the U of T Varsity Blues. The Gaels were originally going to play against the York Lions. However, the Lions had to forfeit three wins due to an eligibility violation, forcing them out of the playoffs.

Barrie said it’s important to be able to beat top teams like the Rams come playoff time.

“To be close and to be competitive with great teams doesn’t mean anything. We’re past that,” he said. “When you have control of the game you have to step up and finish it — that’s what great teams do. We have to take that next step, and when we do, there’s no one we can’t beat.”

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