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Poor first half dooms Queen’s men to basketball defeat

January 5, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

To the layperson’s eye, the Queen’s Golden Gaels didn’t appear to be in bad shape after the first half of their game Saturday night, trailing by just six points at the intermission.

From the coach’s point of view, however, it was a disastrous 20 minutes of basketball, so bad, in fact, that it ultimately led to a resounding 86-74 home-court defeat at the hands of the York Lions.

“While the score looked close, it wasn’t the true story for us,” Queen’s coach Stephan Barrie said. “It was really a disappointing first half.

“While it was close, they scored 48 points and we’ve been giving up not anywhere near that. We were not playing well. We were not doing the things that we had worked on, that we had established throughout the week of practice.”

The win lifted the Lions, 6-4, into a fifth-place tie with Queen’s in the East division of Ontario University Athletics, a division where all but two teams are two games over .500 or better.

The Gaels, who’d won three of their previous four games — including a 73-55 win at York in late November — fell nine points behind by the four-minute mark of the second quarter. A 9-of-11 run brought them within two points of the lead at 39-37, but York replied by taking a 48-42 lead into halftime.

Queen’s fought back to trail by just three points at 51-48 but the Lions erupted, scoring the next nine points in a row, and 19 of the next 23, to extend their lead to 17 points, an advantage that grew to 18 points in the fourth quarter.

A 9-0 run gave the Gaels a glimmer of hope but 80-71 with about three minutes left was as close as they would get.

Still, it wasn’t in the third quarter that the game was lost, Barrie said, but in a lethargic first half.

“We weren’t putting ball pressure on them the way we’re supposed to,” he said. “That was the first problem. We had guys that were letting (York) feel comfortable on offence so they could run whatever they wanted and they had easy, open shots. Whereas in the second half there was much more pressure on the ball, so they had to make some decisions and sometimes they turned it over.

“The second thing in the first half is we didn’t help, so when we did get beat there was nobody stopping the ball in rotation. Those two things, which have been strong points for us for most of the year, were really disappointing.”

In the third quarter, Barrie said, the Gaels played with more intensity but offensively “we just didn’t have a good rhythm.”

“We couldn’t make shots, we didn’t make some free throws and they capitalized on that moment and had the spread go to double digits,” he said, “but our effort defensively was good at that point. We were forcing a lot of turnovers. We just weren’t capitalizing on them.

“The third quarter, offensively, was not good but I can live with that if we’re playing defence like we were.”

The last time the teams met, York was missing three players — Daniel Tulloch, Aaron Rados and Kingston’s Nathan Culbreath — all of whom were in the lineup Saturday, collectively contributing 25 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot.

“We knew they were going to be tougher,” Barrie said. “Some things in basketball happen. They shot the ball much better than they did the previous time that we played them. We didn’t shoot the ball as well. Some of those things are out of your control a little bit.”

Something else beyond the Gaels’ control Saturday night was Richard Iheadindu, who scored 26 points, 10 more than his season average. He scored 16 points in the first half and finished the game with four three-point baskets.

Ryan Ejim came off the bench to score 15 points for York, while Matthew Ziobrowski scored 12, Tulloch 11 and Rados 10, all of them in the first half.

Nick Tufegdzich had a game-best 17 rebounds, as the Lions bested Queen’s 53-39 in that category, including 37-10 off the defensive glass.

Sukhpreet Singh, with 19 points — one off his season best — Greg Faulkner, with 15, Nikola Misljencevic, with 13, and Mackenzie Simpson, with 12, reached double figures for the Gaels, who will resume play Friday at home against the Ryerson Rams.

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