A sold-out ARC would have to settle for a second-place finish by the women’s basketball team in the OUA finals, as they fell to the Carleton Ravens in a low-scoring 49-41 finish. Disappointed as the Gaels may be, they have a chance at redemption in Victoria this week, where they’ll be playing in the national U Sports Championships.
“It’s been a great season all along, the development we’ve had with this team, the growth we’ve had and the improvements and statements we made across the country,” said head coach Dave Wilson. “So now it’s just a matter of putting this game behind us and looking forward to what we have in the next five or six days, and get back on to where we’re normally playing.”
The first-seed Gaels faced off in the semi-finals against the fourth-seed Windsor Lancers on Friday, where they finished 64-56. The teams traded buckets all game long, putting the packed ARC on the edge of their seats.
The Gaels secured a two-possession game going into the second quarter. Queen’s came out strong in the second quarter, going on a 9-0 run to push the lead to 26-15. However, the Lancers bounced back and went on a 13-4 tear, and after trading a few more buckets the game was tied at 32 going into the half. Nevertheless, Wilson was pleased with the Gaels’ performance.
“We pressured up hard in the second quarter to their post player that was bringing up the ball … we said if she does that often it would take her legs out and that would get her into trouble later. So we actually went into halftime feeling fine … with all the pressure that we had put on,” Wilson said.
After some defensive lapses in the third quarter, the Gaels proved their number one rank in the fourth frame. Queen’s forced the defensive stops they needed to push ahead and went on a 10-2 in the final five minutes of play to end the game and snag a seat in the OUA championship against the Ravens.
“Our defence got really tough in the last little part and their offence got less precise so it forced a number of turnovers,” Wilson said.
Against Carleton, it was a much different storyline.
The second quarter was mostly controlled by the Ravens, but the Gaels went on an 8-0 run to end the first half. There were some tough calls in the quarter, and the high-intensity environment and influence from the crowd caused emotional responses to the calls, from both teams.
“It didn’t affect the outcome of the game,” Wilson said about some of the calls. “We chose our own destiny with our shooting percentage.”
The Gaels shot 19.7 per cent from the field, 16.7 per cent from downtown, and 69.2 per cent from the free throw line. The Ravens shot 27.2 per cent, 13.3 per cent and 62.5 per cent, respectively. Neither team was efficient on the offensive end of the floor, but a roughly 10 per cent difference between the teams’ field goal shooting certainly made a gap. Additionally, these low percentages attributed to the low-scoring final, 49-41.
“We’re two of the top ranked defensive teams in the country, so you put those together and you’re bound to get, from a fan’s perspective, ugly basketball,” said Wilson. “It’s boring and more missed shots than anything and with their length they make it so difficult.”
The Ravens seemed to be running away with the game in the second half, going into the fourth with a 36-28 point lead. The Gaels couldn’t get a stop in the first few minutes of the fourth, and Carleton stretched the lead to 12 points. Then the Gaels went on a 7-0 run, with Marianne Alarie hitting a pivotal three with two minutes left in the game, making it a two-possession game. Unfortunately, the Gaels couldn’t maintain the momentum.
“You get down to the wire and you start to play on adrenaline, some of the things that are bogging down in your minds about how poorly you’ve been shooting has disappeared and that one little shot that you make gives you a boost of energy, and all of the sudden you’re going, you get a little aggressive on defence,” said Wilson. “But then the moment you miss a shot it’s like ‘oh no not this again,’ so it’s a little deflating and you’re toast with the amount of time we had left.”
The Gaels will travel to Victoria this week to play on Thursday against the Cape Breton Capers in the U Sports Championship Tournament.
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