The men’s basketball team’s winter vacation didn’t go exactly as planned — guards Ryan Golden and forward Alex Weatherill were hurt during exhibition play on the team’s trip to Puerto Rico and missed last weekend’s losses to the Ryerson Rams and the Toronto Varsity Blues.
Golden was out with bruised ribs and Weatherill missed action due to a fractured finger.
But both players still made their presence felt from the sidelines. Head coach Stephan Barrie said he loved the way Golden and Weatherill carried themselves on the bench.
“The referee asked me to tell them to sit down,” Barrie said. “That’s a very strong indication of being a good teammate. I couldn’t ask for more from them.”
Despite a slow start, Barrie said Saturday night’s 67-56 loss to the Varsity Blues was as close to a full game of effort as the team has played all year.
“It’s something to build on,” he said. “We needed a game like that just to feel the concept of being in the game and having a chance going into the fourth quarter.
“That’s something the guys haven’t felt for a bit and they liked that feeling,” he said. “Now, they have to take that to the next level.”
Barrie said even though the Gaels were able to string together three consecutive quarters of competitive play for the first time all season, his team wasn’t able to overcome the 14-point deficit suffered in the first quarter.
Mike Farine played a game-high 31 minutes in his second start as a Gael. He took advantage of his floor time with 17 points to lead the game in scoring.
“We knew … that he’d contribute,” Barrie said. “We need to make sure he builds on this, and when [Golden] and [Weatherill] come back, that he is still someone who is giving what he gave tonight.”
Matt Baker added 10 points in the loss.
In Friday’s 78-50 loss to the Rams, the Gaels jumped out to an early 12-3 lead thanks to a zone defence that caused problems for Ryerson. But the Gaels were outscored 29-7 in the second quarter.
“A 29-7 second quarter was the game,” Barrie said. “Otherwise, through the other three quarters, it’s a six-point game, and we’re right there.”
Simpson led the team with 12 points, while Farine added 11.
Despite falling to 0-10, the Gaels can still make the OUA playoffs, but their chances hinge on Saturday’s game against the winless York Lions at the ARC.
“York’s going to be right there with us in terms of who’s going to get that last seat in the playoffs,” Golden said. “It’s going to be our biggest game.”
Golden said he plans on playing in tonight’s game against the Laurentian Voyageurs and tomorrow’s game against the York Lions. Both games tip off at 8 p.m. at the ARC.
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