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Gaels suffer heart-breaking defeat at CIS women’s basketball

March 15, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

They did practically everything well.

They defended superbly, holding their opponent’s all-Canadian to just two points, 17 below her season average. Against a team that more than doubled the score on them in October — winning by 35 points — this time the Queen’s Golden Gaels twice held a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.

The only place the Saskatchewan Huskies got the better of the Gaels Friday afternoon was the scoreboard but, alas, that’s the only variable that matters when it comes to determining one’s fate at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s basketball championship tournament.

Their 61-52 first-round defeat doomed the Gaels to the consolation side of the eight-team draw, where they will face the Alberta Pandas Saturday. The Pandas were also bested by Huskies Friday, dropping their tournament opener 71-51 to the east coast species from Saint Mary’s.

It was a crushing defeat for the Gaels who, despite a splendid game in almost every other respect, managed to score on just 18 per cent of their shots in the second half.

The crucial point in the ball game came late in the third quarter, with Queen’s, this tournament’s sixth-seeded team, holding a four-point lead. For the final two and a half minutes Saskatchewan quite literally didn’t get out of its own end of the floor. A Huskie turnover, a foul and eight successive offensive rebounds meant the Gaels didn’t have to defend in the final 270 seconds of the period, a staggering length of time.

Of course, the flipside of all those offensive rebounds were failed shots. Queen’s missed nine of them in a row before Emily Hazlett finally hit a jumper with four seconds on the clock.

“Eight rebounds, nine shots in a row, and we came away with two points,” Gaels coach Dave Wilson lamented.

“It just took the wind out of the sails. It changed the momentum. We couldn’t get the pace of the game back where we wanted it. We wanted a fast game. We were tiring them out, wearing them down. Then the fouls started to creep in. They ran a high pick-and-roll that we struggled with and they got to the rim and got some fouls and slowed the game right down.

“And we just. Couldn’t. Finish. Our shots,” he continued, biting off each word in frustration. “That really was the disappointing part because in my opinion we outplayed them the whole game.”

After Jenny Wright scored while being fouled to give Queen’s its final lead of the game — 52-51, with 3:15 left to play — the Gaels didn’t score again. Wright missed the free throw and OUA East division champions missed all five of their shots the rest of the way.

The Canada West champion Huskies, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, closed with just one field goal of their own, but they were 8-for-10 from the free-throw line, 5-for-6 in the final 30 seconds of the game.

It wasn’t like his players were forced to take poor shots, Wilson said, and the Gaels took 72 of them during the game, compared to 53 by Saskatchewan.

“It wasn’t like when we played Windsor and sometimes it’s hard to get a good look … we got the looks,” he said. “We had everything that we needed to be successful. The number that just rattled around the rim and popped out? My goodness, a couple of those go down and it’s a totally different finish.”

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan’s Dalyce Emmerson, the nation’s fourth-leading scorer in the regular year, was held to just four shots and two points — both on free throws — under the withering coverage of Robyn Pearson, Andrea Priamo and Nicole Morse, who shared responsibility for guarding her.

“We executed what we wanted to do defensively extremely well,” Wilson said. “The posts did an outstanding job of keeping her out of the game. She was completely frustrated. She couldn’t get any looks, couldn’t get touches for the longest time, and when she did, she rushed it because they were so few and far between.”

The Gaels haven’t faced Alberta this year, a team that went 20-2 to share first place in the Canada West Prairie division, averaging close to 80 points per game.

“They’re big,” Wilson said. “They normally score very well. They did not play their best game today so that’s a little bit concerning, as to why or whether that will continue. They have a lot to contend with.”

The coach remains confident his players will bounce back.

“There’s no question. This one hurt,” Wilson said. “These kids have been working so hard, and they executed the game plan today really well, to the point where we shut them down well enough to win. To have that pulled away, all the time thinking, ‘It’s got to go in, it’s got to go in,’ (is hard).

“Based on what we’ve done all season long, they’re pretty tough,” he said of his players. “We had a good team dinner and spirits started to come back up through that. We had a goal. We want to be playing on Sunday, and we need to win (Saturday) to do that.”

Liz Boag, with 18 points, and Jenny Wright, with 12, led Queen’s. Saskatchewan got 22 points and 15 rebounds from Kelsey Trulsrud, 12 from Kabree Howard and 11 from Antoinette Miller off the bench, seven of them in the Huskies’ 24-point fourth quarter.

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One Comment
  1. Rick and Muriel Revelle permalink

    That old equalizer coaches call “Nerves,” done them in.

    Rick Revelle

    _____

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