Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart, ISN
March 9, 2017, VIctoria, BC (ISN) – The Queen’s University Gaels can thank the students from Arbutus and Gordon Head Elementary School for the continuation of their 2017 U Sports Women’s Basketball season.
The Gaels were trailing the underdog Cape Breton Capers 38-23 with just under seven minutes to play in the third quarter, when an estimated 800 cheering students entered the CARSA Performance Gym to watch the tournament. The energy in the gym suddenly changed and the Gaels used that energy to mount an astonishing comeback, outscoring the Capers 37-13 the rest of the way, eventually winning the opener at the U Sports National Women’s Basketball Chammpionships 60-51.
The #3 seeded Gaels dug themselves a deep hole early, as the #6 seeded Capers game out of the gate flying and built a 17-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Queen’s would fight back a bit, winning the second quarter 15-13 and heading into the half down nine, 30-21.
The Capers, poised for the upset, built their lead back up to 13 points, but the deep and talented Queen’s squad went to work, outscoring the Capers 17-12 in the third quarter and 22-9 in the fourth to go on to the win.
“I thought our first half was an issue, certainly with our shooting and for us to get relaxed playing here because it’s a hyped up environment so it does take a little bit of time to relax,” said Queen’s head coach Dave Wilson.
“But we certainly don’t want to go into games giving up that much of a lead at the start—not often are we going to be able to come back like that,” added Wilson. ” At the half, there were a couple things that we discussed that we wanted to do on defence to disrupt their offence a little bit and that seemed to give us a little spark but the main thing we talked about was to relax and play our game.”
The Gaels were led by Marianne Alarie, named Player of the Game, with 14 points, while Andrea Priamo, the only other Gael in double figures contributed 10. For the Capers, Colleen Keane had 15 points, 12 of which came in the first half, to lead the way. Alison Keough also hit double figures, contributing 12 in the losing effort.
For their part, the Capers hit 41.3% percent of their shots from the field and 20% from three-point range. But they came up short when they needed it most, hitting just 27% of their shots in the fourth—a low for the game.
Despite the loss, Capers Head Coach Fabian McKenzie stayed optimistic. “We followed the game plan pretty well—we took some things away from them. They adjusted later on but I think in the first half we were pretty good. I think our team came out pretty strong in the beginning and then towards the end we lost our steam,” added Keane. “It’s our first time here so it’s just a learning experience overall.”
The Gaels will play again on Saturday at 2 pm , when they’ll meet Laval, winners over Saskatchewan 69-59. Cape Breton will meet Saskatchewan in the consolation round on Friday night at 6:00 pm.