Women’s basketball starts season on strong foot

Gaels beat Lakehead 77-61 at the ARC on Friday

Sarah Saftich defending against the Lakehead Thunderwolves.
Sarah Saftich defending against the Lakehead Thunderwolves.

The women’s basketball team opened up their regular season on Friday night with a commanding 77-61 victory over the Lakehead Thunderwolves.

Following their record breaking 2016-17 season, the Gaels were welcomed back to the ARC by an enthusiastic crowd. Last year, the team finished with an 18-1 OUA record — including a 16-game win streak to tip off their season — an OUA silver medal and a U Sports final four appearance.

Despite starting off slow against the Thunderwolves on Friday, the Gaels managed to settle in by the half. With 30-second quarter points, the team’s offensive surge propelled them to a 48-33 lead they wouldn’t let slip away.

Queen’s was on cruise control in the second half and ultimately took the game by a final score of 77-61.

Fourth-year Marianne Alarie led the way with 21 points from the backcourt, while fellow senior Maddie Morris added seven of her own points along with 11 rebounds.

Speaking after the game, head coach Dave Wilson noted his satisfaction with starting the season with a win.

“We’ll take the outcome,” he said, though mentioning that the play at the start of the first half wasn’t entirely up to standard. “When we settled down in both [halves], I thought we did a much better job against [Lakehead],” he added.

One aspect of the game the Gaels had to adjust to on the fly was the Thunderbirds' half-court defense. While the Gaels were effective at running the court and scoring quick points, the team required some extra creative ball movement once the game slowed down.

To combat this, Wilson said the team spent time this week breaking zone schemes in practice.

“We had a couple things that we run that we’re pretty comfortable with at this point … I thought we did some pretty good things with it.” This included some strong passing plays to open up the Gaels for shots from the wings, he continued.

“The biggest thing from when you start in league play is learning to adjust to the scouts,” Wilson said. By Wilson’s estimation, the Gaels were 90 per cent successful in following this instruction.

When asked if there were any other specific improvements the team would be focusing on in the next week, Wilson needed little time to respond.

“Always,” he noted succinctly. In particular, he mentioned how he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the team’s performance in terms of rebounding and second-chance opportunities.

These improvements will be key for the Gaels when they welcome McMaster and Brock for next weekend’s double-header, as they hope to maintain their undefeated start before heading on the road in the coming weeks.

Overall, the head coach saw the game as an important step towards reaching the same heights as — and improving upon — last year’s finish.

“It was a pretty good game for them to have as an example — stick with what we were trying to do and we will be successful.”

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