By CLAUDE SCILLEY
They didn’t quite know how it was going to manifest itself, but the members of the Queen’s Golden Gaels were pretty sure it was going to happen.
The Canadian Interuniversity Sport athlete of the week two weeks ago, Robyn Pearson didn’t play up to standard in a pair of defeats last weekend in Ottawa.
Too bad for the Guelph Gryphons.
They happened to be the ones in the way when Pearson had her first chance to atone, and that’s what she did in a 20-point, 15-rebound performance that led the Gaels to a 75-61 victory Friday night in an Ontario University Athletics women’s basketball game at the Athletics and Recreation Centre.
“Robyn’s capable of that, day in, day out,” Queen’s coach Dave Wilson said. “She was very disappointed with her play last week, so we pretty much knew that she was going to come out and play really well.
“She’s that kind of competitor. She wasn’t happy with her play and she was going to make amends. She didn’t say anything about it. She was going to do it.”
It was a fortuitous time for the nation’s leading rebounder to assert herself. Guelph plays a physical brand of basketball, and getting the best of the Gryphons is not a task for the faint of heart.
“They rebound hard, they go after the ball hard, they play defence very physically, with lots of bumping,” Wilson said, “and we have to be able to withstand that, not let that take us out of our game, and it did, it took us out of our game a number of times.
“That was the biggest thing: Can we stand the physicality of the game? For the most part, we stood up to it very well, to the point where we got them frustrated because their physicality wasn’t working.”
The Gaels led for most of the game. They pushed the lead to double digits every now and then, but they couldn’t dispose of the pesky Gryphons. Queen’s scored eight straight points in the middle of the third quarter to take a 13-point lead, 46-33, but on three separate occasions in the fourth quarter, Guelph cut its deficit to five points, and then to just three, when Barbara Inrig-Pieterse hit a three-point basket with three minutes to play.
Then the visitors suddenly fizzled. The Gaels scored the next seven points, and a 13-1 run in the final three minutes led to the 14-point victory, Queen’s 10th in 13 games this year.
“One of their kids hit some threes that, statistically, she doesn’t hit consistently over the course of the year,” Wilson said. “That goes on me. We said we’d give her that shot, if she makes it, she makes it.
“She hit two that we thought were not consistent with the (scouting report) and those were the things that helped break our runs.”
Ultimately, the Gaels were able to dominate play under the glass, out-rebounding Guelph 51-26. Besides Pearson’s 15 rebounds, teammate Jenny Wright had 11 and Andrea Priamo had nine.
Two elements were vital to being able to do so, Wilson said.
“There are a number of things we work on in practice,” he explained. “One is where the weight is over your pivot foot, and making sure that we don’t do anything until we have the weight on the pivot foot. If you try to play the game with your weight off the pivot foot, you have no way to move.
“(The other) is the mentality, knowing that every time you go to get a rebound, someone’s going to physically bump you, and somebody’s going to grab for the basketball. Not being casual is the biggest thing.
“When we do those two things, we tend to secure the ball a little bit better, and if they do it often enough they tend to get fouls, instead of turnovers if we don’t do it.”
The Gaels, who entertain the Lakehead Thunderwolves tonight, got double-digit scoring from five different players. Besides Pearson, Emily Hazlett scored 14 points, Marianne Alarie came off the bench to score 13, Abby Dixon scored 11 and Wright added 10.
Guelph, loser of four of its five games since Christmas, fell to 6-6. Bridget Atkinson led the Gryphons with 16 points, while Kate MacTavish, who played all 40 minutes and took 18 shots, scored on just four of them to finish with 11 points.