A nail-biter & a blowout against Toronto opponents for the Gaels

Women’s basketball team lives up to high national ranking

Sarah Saftich (6) passes to Emma Ritcey against U of T.
Sarah Saftich (6) passes to Emma Ritcey against U of T.

With their weekend sweep of Ryerson and Toronto, the women’s basketball team proved they are a force to be reckoned with.

On Friday, the team hosted Ryerson in a U Sports Top Ten showdown where the fifth-ranked Gaels came out on top of the sixth-ranked Rams in overtime. The game was a back and forth affair, with neither team able to get ahead by more than 10.

However, Queen’s strong defence was able to capitalize on Ryerson’s mistakes, registering 19 points off turnovers and 11 points off second chances.

“We are a much more mature team as we’ve moved along and I think that in games that are tight and tense we were clustered in the past [but] I haven’t seen that this year at all,” head coach Dave Wilson said. “This was the most tense game that we’ve been in and I thought we handled it very well.”

Queen’s remained aggressive down the stretch, reflected in a key performance from Robyn Pearson. Queen’s led by two with a minute left in OT as Pearson nailed a jumper to put them up by four. Ryerson scored on the other end but Pearson remained focused and nailed another jumper to keep Queen’s two possession lead out of reach from Ryerson with less than 30 seconds remaining.

“You look into her eyes in overtime and she wanted the basketball,” Wilson said, speaking about Pearson. “That’s just a veteran presence with confidence. And that’s what championship teams do, they come up big when it really counts.”

The Gaels shot an impressive 75 per cent from the field in OT, and kept Ryerson to 33 per cent.

“I think we did a really good job of locking down on defence,” said fifth-year Kinesiology major and Queen’s guard, Emily Hazlett. “We did a really good job of executing exactly what the coaches wanted us to do and that helped us down the stretch.”

To finish the weekend, the Gaels blew-out U of T, 86-63. On Saturday, Queen’s shot 46.2 per cent from the field against the Varsity Blues, limiting their opponent to 37 per cent from the field.

Queen’s was in the driver’s seat for the whole game, maintaining their lead throughout the entire 40 minutes.

During the fourth quarter against the Blues, Gemma Bullard of Queen’s went down and had to sit out for the rest of the game. Bullard has been battling back spasms all year and typically plays one out the two games each weekend.

“We knew coming in that she had some issues with that so we’ve been trying to manage that as much as possible … trying to build her up to playing more than one game a weekend,” Wilson said.

The bench was a key factor in the Gaels’ victory in both games, contributing 30 per cent of the team’s points this weekend for a total of 48. Coach Dave Wilson is very excited about the depth of his team and views it as an asset moving forward.

“This is the deepest team I’ve coached in 36 years. This is a big factor for us and it will be as we get into the grind of the second half of the season where we can run our whole bench and the quality of the game stays up.”

The Gaels are on the road next weekend against the central division’s 4-6 Brock Badgers and the first-ranked team in the nation, the 10-1 McMaster Marauders.

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