Nationally ranked opponents keep men’s basketball on losing streak

11 in a row following losses to Carleton and Ottawa

Isse Ibrahim during Friday's game.
Isse Ibrahim during Friday's game.

The Gaels’ streak extended to eleven over the weekend after a home stand turned sour with losses to the number one nationally-ranked Carleton Ravens and number three Ottawa Gee-Gees.

To some surprise, though, confidence isn’t at a loss said all-time Queen’s leading scorer Sukhpreet Singh.

“Games like Carleton and Ottawa, teams go into the weekend thinking ‘Oh, that’s two L’s right there,’ but we’re lucky we have a group of guys that have a lot of belief in ourselves,” Singh said after the game.

Even amidst their unsettling run, the Gaels find themselves in a rather favourable situation. With the Gaels’ final game of the regular season at home next weekend against the 4-14 York Lions, a win can secure the team a spot in the post-season. Queen’s currently holds an edge over York in the division, but a loss next weekend, by way of a tiebreak, would slip them out of a playoff spot.

With a 6-12 record this season, one thing that has pleased head coach Stephan Barrie is the team’s defence.

“I’m happy where our defence is heading in the last few weeks,” he said. “We’re getting to a good place defensively going into the last game.”

He’s not far off.  The Gaels have held the four of the top 10 nationally-ranked teams they’ve played in the last month at bay, only allowing an average of 78 per game — which would rank seventh in the OUA.

Against Ryerson, for instance, Queens’ defence contained the Rams to 70 points — impressive considering it was the OUA’s second-ranked offense’s third lowest scoring output of the season.  The Gaels kept the Gee-Gees in check as well, at least from a defensive standpoint.

“Looking at the score sheet, I thought there were some good things,” said Barrie after the team’s 72-50 loss to the Gee-Gees. “I think to hold a team like that to 72 points actually gives you a chance.”

The issue at large for the Gaels is seemingly a matter of hitting shots and finding some semblance of a rhythm. 

“We’re just not shooting the ball well at all. Our three point percentage is pretty abysmal, and just from the field in general. We got to fight through that,” Coach Barrie said.

“We can’t ever settle,” Singh said of the team’s shooting woes. “We always preach hunting layups and easy baskets and getting to the line — that’s when the game opens up.”

In their 93-50 loss to the undefeated Ravens, the Gaels shot a season-low 26 per cent from the field and 20 per cent from beyond the three point arc.

But this is a team with candor, Barrie says, and they understand what’s at stake next weekend.

“It’s all down to one game now. If we win, we control our fate and are in the playoffs. So, it’s a pretty simple, clear message all around.”

For now, the men had a day off on Sunday, getting back to work on Monday prepping for arguably their biggest game of the season.

The Gaels last saw York in their season opener on Nov. 11, dropping that game 83-74. Singh mentioned that with time and more experience under their belt, the team will be ready for the rematch.

“Absolutely,” he responded to whether the Gaels have grown since their last matchup versus York. “There was a bunch of new guys on [York], guys who had limited roles the year prior, so the scouting report was an issue,” Singh said.

Both Singh and Barrie say they’re very confident going into the final regular season matchup, regardless of the team’s recent struggles.

The Gaels play at home on Friday, Feb. 17.

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