Men’s Basketball place fourth in first-ever U Sports Final 8 appearance

Gaels end historic season with loss to Alberta Golden Bears in Bronze medal match

The Gaels finished fourth in the Final 8 after their loss to Alberta.
Credit: 
Supplied by Don Voaklander
The Queen’s Men’s Basketball fell just short of the podium in their first ever U Sports National Championship appearance over the weekend, placing fourth overall in the field of eight.
 
The Gaels started off strong with a 90-80 win over the Dalhousie Tigers in their quarterfinal matchup on Apr. 1. However, they went on to lose their next two matchups against the Saskatchewan Huskies 86-60 in the semifinals on Apr. 2 and the University of Alberta Golden Bears 95-84 in the bronze medal match on Apr. 3—the latter marking the end of their 2021-22 season.
 
“Just very proud of the way they battled. we had an excruciating schedule going into nationals, […] and we had a lot of stuff that we were dealing with just in terms of health over that time,” head coach Stephen Barrie said in an interview with The Journal.
 
In their first matchup against the Tigers, only seven players on the Gaels squad played a substantial number of minutes. Fifth-years Quinton Gray and Connor Keefe lead the team stat sheet with 19 points and 10
rebounds, respectively.
 
“It [was] important for us to […] win that first game. We shortened our bench, and we had to pull that game out,” Barrie explained.
 
Grinding out the win against Dalhousie took a substantial toll on the Gaels, who grappled with fatigue playing in the semifinals against Saskatchewan the next day.
 
Already undersized in the paint, the Gaels struggled to find the energy to be aggressive on boards and play lockdown defense. They were out-rebounded 56-31 by the Huskies—something Barrie emphasized as a key difference between Queen’s and Saskatchewan.
 
“Our defense wasn’t good enough. In the third quarter of the Saskatchewan game, our defense was as bad as I’ve seen it in a long time,” he said.
 
“That was the difference, we weren’t able to get the energy to rebound.”
 
In the bronze medal match against the Golden Bears, offense certainly wasn’t an issue. A standout, Gray dropped 38 points while shooting eight for 11 from deep. However, fatigue remained a persistent issue, as the Gaels were outrebounded again 58-38. Barrie insisted the group was exhausted despite their motivation to win.
 
“We had to ask them to go into their extra 20 per cent, find those bursts somewhere in there […] They just didn’t have anything when we needed it, and it’s unfortunate that we hit that wall, but we definitely did,” he said.
 
When asked the highlight of the season, Barrie avoided individual moments, and stressed the process that the team followed to achieve their historic year—which included upsets of both uOttawa and Carleton in the OUA playoffs, as well as a shot at the Wilson Cup.
 
“Obviously we had some good wins, and those things happen, but they happen because the process is sound,” he noted.
 
“We were very deliberate about that commitment from the very beginning of the year, and our guys did a really good job of making our goal to get better one day at a time. And for me, that was the most gratifying part of the year.”

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