Women's basketball beat best in country

Gaels basketball extends winning streak to 12

Andrea Priamo (14) in action against Laurier.
Andrea Priamo (14) in action against Laurier.
Journal File Photo

After knocking off the number one team in the country last weekend, the women’s basketball team is clearly going for gold. With the 70-68 win over McMaster, the team moved to 12-0 on the season, sitting atop the OUA East. 

In an interview with The Journal, head coach Dave Wilson discussed how close of a game it was. 

“They’re ranked number one in the country for a reason,” Wilson said. “They don’t give up and they’re very talented so we knew it was coming. It was just a question of if we could weather the storm and maintain our composure, and I thought we actually did a good job of that.” 

The Marauders started the fourth quarter off with a 7-0 run but the Gaels fought back and took the lead with less than a minute remaining. Veronika Lavergne knocked down a jumper with 25 seconds to go, putting the Gaels up by three. With a missed shot on the other end from McMaster, Lavergne’s shot sealed the deal. 

“We had some defensive lapses but we were able to pull it out on the offensive end and [take] the lead,” said fourth-year nursing student and Queen’s forward, Andrea Priamo. 

The Gaels finished with a record of 14-5 last season and their actions speak more than words this year. They want to win and they have a team that doesn’t shy away when the game is on the line. 

“We knew that we had something special with this group [this year],” Wilson said. “We have, I would think, the deepest team in the country … we’ve had nine different players be our top scorer in a game.” 

At the core of the team’s depth is its veterans, Wilson said. Being a part of the system for a few years now, these players have acted as teachers for the younger players. 

“Our veterans have become more savvy every time they come on the court and what that’s done is accelerate our younger players so they’re learning from the veterans much more than learning from the coaching staff, which is the way we would like things because our veterans are the ones that are in the trenches,” he said. 

Depth is crucial to stamina through the long and strenuous season. In only three out of Queen’s 12 games this year an opponent’s bench outscored the Gaels’ bench. In the other nine games the Gaels’ bench outscored their opponents’ by roughly ten points. 

“I think that all 15 players make such a difference … and everyone trusts all 15 players, which is important,” Priamo said. 

The success of the team’s depth isn’t just a factor in games, but heavily impacts team development in practices as well. Coach Wilson puts players through a drill called four-on-four-on-four, where one group plays another and the first to score stays on. The next group of four rushes onto the court and play continues aggressively. 

“All of our players get pushed hard every day in practice by very talented players, whereas other teams that aren’t as deep, it’s hard to push the starters as hard because the backups aren’t quite as strong,” Wilson said with regards to the four-on-four-on-four drills. 

A benefit to having a deep bench enables the Gaels to exercise versatility on the offensive floor. Each game has been different this season in terms of the type of scoring Queen’s executes. 

“Friday night against Brock, we did all the damage with the post, and then against Mac it was our perimeters,” Wilson said. “So I think that’s the other thing that comes to the table with us; our breadth of how we can score.” 

Having a clean 12-0 record is daunting moving forward, and that’s why Queen’s looks at these wins through a different lens. Instead of waiting for a loss to figure out what they need to improve, the Gaels look at winning not so much like a victory. 

“You can learn so much from a loss and that’s where you really grow and learn, but our concept this year is you can learn from a win,” Wilson said. “And that’s what we’ve been trying to do…[we] treat every game after we’ve won as if we’ve lost.”

Looking forward, the Gaels want to maintain the intensity and keep running the rotations from the bench. They have a motivation to work hard and not get too excited about a single win, because they realize the season is a grind. 

“My favourite part is working with athletes who are committed to a common goal and are willing to do exceptionally difficult things and make that happen,” Wilson said. “It’s special to see what the players can accomplish, both academically and athletically with the drive they have. I think it’s amazing and it’s very exciting to be around.”

The Gaels are at home this weekend hosting the 1-12 Nipissing team and the 3-10 Laurentian team.

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