Men’s basketball struggles at home to open second half of season

Queen’s drops both games against Ryerson and U of T

Tanner Graham scored 14 points, 11 rebounds and added four blocks in the 75-71 loss to U of T.
Tanner Graham scored 14 points, 11 rebounds and added four blocks in the 75-71 loss to U of T.
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Coming off the winter break, the Gaels hoped some fresh legs would do them some good. Their performances this past weekend, though, dashed those hopes after they suffered back-to-back losses to the Ryerson Rams and the U of T Varsity Blues.

Friday night saw the men host the No. 4 nationally-ranked Rams, where they hung around for about half the game before losing steam early in the third quarter.

Down 43-36 to start the half, a quick three by Sukhpreet Singh brought the Gaels within four. But a subsequent 7-0 run by the Rams signalled the end of the game for Queen’s. The visitors pulled away with conviction, closing the game out and handing the Gaels a 101-77 loss.

The Rams put their money where their mouths were and showed why they’re a top five team in the country, said head coach Stephan Barrie, adding that defence was at the heart of the Gaels’ mishaps. 

“Defensively we were not sharp enough, particularly in transition. When you give a team like that an opportunity to run freely they can really crush you,” he said.

The telling stats were the 100-plus points — the most the Gaels have let up all season — and the Rams’ percentages from the field. They shot an impressive 50 per cent from inside the arc and 35 outside of it. On the other hand, Queen’s could only managed to shoot 36.9 per cent from the field, committing 12 team turnovers.

Queen’s misfortunes continued the following night, as they failed to buck their now three-game losing skid. There was, however, a considerable — and noticeable — uptick in their quality of play.

At half, the matchup looked fairly even. Both teams traded leads and headed to the locker room at 37-35 in favour of the Blues.

As the Gaels flooded back onto the court and the clock reset at a clean 10:00, their legs looked like the kind of fresh they’d originally hoped for. Midway through the third, they seemed poised to run away with it after jumping out to a 10-point lead.

However, a flurry of threes by the visitors dampened their groove and allowed the Blues to creep back into it to open the fourth.

“They took the momentum back at that point,” said Barrie of the team’s inability to expand on their lead.

But in what was the common thread all night, the Gaels managed to keep it close. With 11 seconds left in the fourth, down two, they had a chance to come out with a victory.

A well-executed play found Tanner Graham for three, but the ball rattled off the rim — ultimately handing Queen’s a 75-71 loss.  

When it was all said and done, Queen’s didn’t have a great night from behind the arc. The Gaels only managed to hit six of 23 from three-point range — including missing all six of their threes in the fourth quarter.

Coming off a home-stand winless is understandably tough, but having your composure waiver to close out games is even more difficult.

On finding their footing in the second half, Barrie said the team will take a tried and true approach.

“We’ll do what we always do — watch the film, show the guys where they made mistakes and have them try and get better through experience.”

Keeping the morale high among the players is also imperative, he added — especially with playoffs on the horizon.

“There’s going to be some tough nights, so I don’t think anyone is being dismayed by the losses … we have the ability to pull out tough games.”

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