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Queen’s women move into first place with 74-61 win over York

January 5, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Treading water early in the second half, taking turns with the lead with a 1-8 basketball team, wasn’t exactly what Dave Wilson had in mind for his Queen’s Golden Gaels Saturday night.

“When teams shoot well against you, you can hang your head and your defence can get worse or you can say, ‘Good for them’ and just go play and play through it,” the Gaels coach said.

“That’s what we did. We didn’t panic, we stayed calm and just played our way through it.”

As a result, the Queen’s women ultimately emerged with a 74-61 Ontario University Athletics victory over the visiting York Lions at the Athletics and Recreation Centre.

The win was the seventh in 10 games for the Gaels, who with it matched their total of victories for all of last year. York, after winning its first game of the season, fell to 1-9.

After scoring the first 10 points of the game, Queen’s hit the doldrums. York scored eight straight points in the middle of the second quarter to turn a six-point deficit into a two-point lead. The teams traded scores until a basket by Andrea Priamo in the dying seconds sent the Gaels into halftime with a 33-31 lead.

The lead changed hands three times to start the second half and the score was tied 42-42 when Queen’s went ahead for good. The lead fluctuated between four and six points until the final two minutes of the game, when Jenny Wright made one free throw, Robyn Pearson snared the rebound on the missed second attempt, got fouled and made two free throws of her own.

In a matter of seconds the lead went from six points to 11 and the Gaels coasted through the final minute of play.

The nature of the game was in sharp contrast to the 21-point victory Queen’s posted at York in the final game of the pre-Christmas schedule.

“Bill (Pangos) is a great coach. He prepares really well,” Wilson said. “I knew when he’s got a whole month to prepare for us that there’d be something there that would make life more difficult for us.”

The Lions shot well above their norm: Almost 42 per cent from the field and almost 38 per cent from three-point range.

“They shot the ball very well and that was a big problem for us,” Wilson said. “We’d tell kids we’re going to close out certain areas on the court, we’re not going to close out on certain players. Then they started hitting shots, we had to adjust our defence and we were getting hung up a little bit in defensive rotations.

“They’re a small team; they spread the floor really well. We generally are playing two big (players), which becomes a challenge for our bigs to get out to the perimeter.”

That height advantage, however, allowed Queen’s to outrebound York 43-32, including 29-7 off the defensive glass.

Two other things stood out for the Gaels — a season-best 17 assists, which contributed to all five starters scoring in double figures.

“It’s a very cohesive group,” Wilson said. “They have confidence in everybody, that everybody can score. We have no hesitation in looking for anybody, anywhere, to get their shots.

“The fact that they like each other so much is a blessing. There’s no bitching.”

Queen’s played without its top scorer, Gemma Bullard, who is ill. In her absence sophomore Emily Hazlett, in her first start of the season, had a season-best 18 points. Pearson, the ninth-leading rebounder in the nation, finished with 14 points and a remarkable 17 rebounds; Priamo and Wright had 13 points apiece and Liz Boag scored 10, to go with her game-best seven assists.

Kayla Pangos led York with 13 points.

The win put Queen’s two points ahead of the idle Ottawa Gee-Gees atop the East division standings. The Gaels resume play Friday, when they will host the 3-6 Ryerson Rams.

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