Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. Edgar Allen Poe himself would be hard-pressed to come up with a more unusual ending than what happened in Bartlett Gym Saturday in the dying moments of the women’s basketball team’s 53-52 victory over the 10-4 Carleton Ravens.
The Gaels trailed by two points with only six seconds remaining on the clock when the referees called a controversial shooting foul on Carleton’s Courtney Smith outside the three-point line, putting OUA-leading scorer Brittany Moore at the foul line with three shots and a chance to win the game. Both Queen’s head coach Dave Wilson and Carleton head coach Taffe Charles called their players over to the benches as Moore took her first shots. Moore missed the first shot, but made the second, leaving her one shot. If she made it, the game was tied; if she missed, Carleton would likely hang on for the win.
At least, that’s how it normally would have worked. However, Charles didn’t realize it was the third shot and was late sending his players back towards the basket. By the time they realized what was going on and rushed back towards their net, the referee had given Moore the ball and she was preparing to shoot. Wilson yelled at his other players to stay behind the three-point line to avoid a lane violation while Queen’s assistant coach Tim Orpin shouted for Moore to miss. She missed the foul shot, charged the hoop, grabbed her own rebound and hit an uncontested layup with no player within 15 feet, giving Queen’s a 53-52 lead instead of a tie game. Carleton tried a last-chance shot but it fell short, and the Gaels walked away with one of the zanier wins in OUA history.
Moore, who led Queen’s with 21 points on nine-of-20 shooting, said the lack of defenders came as a huge surprise.
“That was a ridiculous ending,” she said. “I’m shocked.”
Charles said the loss was his fault.
“It was totally my mistake,” he said. “We didn’t have any timeouts left so I thought I’d get a timeout in without actually having a timeout. I lost count of how many shots were being taken. When I realized the third shot was being taken, I was like ‘Oh, we are in trouble.’”
Charles said he was disappointed with the foul call, though.
“They let a lot go in the game and ended with one that was a three-shot foul,” he said.
Charles said he thought Queen’s outplayed Carleton on the night, though.
“I think Queen’s actually deserved to win tonight despite how it ended,” he said.
Wilson said after the game it was the most unusual ending in his coaching career.
“In 28 years, I’ve never seen that kind of a finish to a game,” he said. “Do I want to win that way? No. Do I want to win? Yes, so I’ll take it.”
Wilson said the team’s effort put them in a position to win.
“At least we played hard to give us the opportunity to get close,” he said.
That intensity was missing from Friday’s game, when the Gaels fell 71-50 to the 9-4 Ottawa Gee-Gees. They made just 25 per cent of their field goal attempts, 10 per cent of their three-point attempts and were outscored in every quarter but the fourth. Moore hit one field goal and scored five points, well below her OUA-leading average of 19.06 points per game.
After the Ottawa game, Wilson said he was appalled at his team’s performance.
“It was certainly a horrible display,” he said. “There wasn’t an aspect of the game where we executed what we’d been meaning to do. Defensively, we were brain-dead, offensively, brain-dead, transition-wise, brain-dead. We couldn’t come up with a way to have any kind of success.”
The Gaels now sit at 7-9 on the season with six games left in the schedule. They host the 6-10 Ryerson Rams Friday night at 6 p.m. and face the 11-5 University of Toronto Varsity Blues Saturday in their final home game of the regular season.
“We need to come in thinking that we’re going to rip their heads off.”
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