Women's basketball falls to York in first round of OUA playoffs

Lions end Gaels’ season in tight 76-70 win

This was the second straight season Queen's has lost in the OUA quarterfinals.
This was the second straight season Queen's has lost in the OUA quarterfinals.

Last Wednesday, the York Lions ended the women’s basketball team’s season in a dramatic, late-game 76-70 win in the OUA quarterfinals. The loss marked the second consecutive year in which the Gaels were bounced from the first round of the postseason. 

In an interview with The Journal, Head Coach Dave Wilson said the end of a season isn’t always sad, contrary to popular belief. 

“Most of the time, if you think about it, very few teams end on a win [in the playoffs],” he said. “It’s the style of loss that becomes the mitigating factor.” When asked what style of loss his team experienced against the Lions, Wilson bluntly replied, “Not good.” 

Against York, the Gaels were up by two points at halftime. Neither team’s lead ever exceeded six points throughout the back-and-forth affair. 

Despite heading into the final frame up 56-54, Queen’s couldn’t keep pace with York to close out their first-round matchup on top. The Lions managed to outscore the Gaels 22-14 in the fourth quarter—firmly overtaking the lead with just 1:16 left in the game—to snag a 76-70 victory. 

Coming off their first win against the Carleton Ravens since 2014-15 a week before the postseason, the Gaels also snuck past the nationally-ranked fourth Ryerson Rams to win 74-70 in Toronto on Feb. 16.

Against Ryerson, the Gaels trailed behind by a margin of six points until the end of the third quarter. In the final seven minutes of the game, the Gaels pulled ahead to beat their second top-10 team in as many games.

But their optimism was short-lived. 

After beating the Ravens and the Rams, Wilson thought his team had turned the corner. “To me, the critical element to why we were able to beat those top-10 teams was how we finished the games, and we finished the games stronger than the [opposing] teams,” he said.

York, Wilson added, ended up doing the same thing Queen’s had done in their previous two games—the only difference was the reverse of roles.

“It was neck-and-neck throughout the entire game,” Wilson said about the game against York. “[In] the last three minutes, our execution was very poor and their execution was very good.”

The Gaels’ loss was similar to last season’s playoffs, which saw Queen’s fall to UOttawa 74-63. The loss was the first time they’d failed to get past the quarterfinals since 2012-2013.

Regardless of their postseason early exit, the Gaels’ season marked several highlights for Wilson, who capped his 37th season as head coach of the team.

His first was beating Carleton—an achievement only his fifth-year players had seen. It was Queen’s first win over the Ottawa-based side since the 2014-15 season.

“Getting that one off of [our] back was very big for our players and the coaching staff,” he said.

Next came their win over the nationally-ranked fourth Ryerson. “Taking care of that game was also a highlight,” Wilson said. “The kids can start to feel really good about all the work that they’ve put in and see a return for their investment.”

Finally, seeing fifth-year Marianne Alarie reach the 1,000 career-point mark was a highlight for Wilson, as both Alarie and fifth-year Maddie Morris graduated. 

This season’s roster, which boasted 12 first- and second-year players out of a possible 17, saw steady improvement as the year wore on, capped with the Gaels’ takedown of Carleton and Ryerson. Wilson said rookies learn more from upper-years than they do from the coaching staff, and the lack of veteran support on his team this season may have held them back from fully developing.

With the majority of players returning as upper-years in 2019-20, Wilson’s optimistic his team can buck the trend of first round playoff exits next season. 

“We knew that it was going to take a little bit longer to get to the level we thought we could get to,” Wilson said. “To me, what a lot of people don’t recognize is that it’s not so much that we have [more athletes] to teach. It’s that we have fewer veterans to help teach.”

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