By CLAUDE SCILLEY
It was not the kind of basketball game where anyone will find a lot of material for instructional videos.
At least, not the first part of it.
The Queen’s Golden Gaels and Lakehead Thunderwolves played a first half Saturday night that Gaels coach Dave Wilson, a man who’s been around a long time, described as “ranking up there with the ugliest” he’s ever seen.
Fortunately for Wilson and the Gaels, the home team settled down, righted the ship with a 20-point third quarter, and went on to defeat the Thunderwolves 69-51 in an Ontario University Athletics women’s basketball game at the Athletics and Recreation Centre.
Queen’s improved to 11-3, and in so doing moved into a first-place tie in the East division with idle Ryerson. Lakehead, last-place team in the Central division, fell to 5-8.
The Gaels led the game 30-23 at halftime, but they were shooting 25 per cent from the field, they were 1-for-14 from three-point range and they committed seven turnovers. It was Queen’s good fortune that the Thunderwolves, dressed in pink in honour of Shoot For the Cure night, weren’t doing much better, with a 27 per cent success rate from the field, while good on just one of 13 attempts from beyond the arc.
Like Wilson said: Ugly.
“We knew that Lakehead would throw some junk defences at us,” he said. “Those are things you don’t practise against every day, so even though we talked about them, we’d played last night, then turned around to play today, so we didn’t have much time to go through that. We were a little scattered.
“They did a good job, keeping us off balance, not letting our players recognize where the openings were coming. That’s what halftime provided for us, a chance to settle down, get on balance and say, ‘OK, look, here’s where we want to pick some things apart.’ Ultimately, in the second half I thought we did that.”
Lakehead closed the gap to five points immediately at the start of the third quarter, and though the Gaels never trailed, Queen’s couldn’t get the lead into double digits until the closing two minutes of the third quarter, when the Gaels scored six straight points for a 50-37 lead going into the final period. The Thunderwolves never got closer than 11 points after that.
Lakehead was primarily using two defences against Queen's, one of them a box-and-one on Jenny Wright, so whenever the Gaels' leading scorer was on the floor, she was covered, one-on-one, and everybody else was in a zone.
“If she wasn’t on the floor they were in a zone, a match-up zone that contorts,” Wilson said. “We went to something that spread their four a little bit and isolated our posts a little bit more, so they couldn’t get as many people around them.
“That seemed to do the trick.”
Ultimately, the difference between the teams could be characterized as the Gaels settling down, Wilson said, “not being so frazzled against the different defences that we hadn’t really worked against.”
“Once we settled down and started looking at the openings, we started to be much more effective, offensively.
“In the opening part of the game, it was one pass and shoot, one pass and shoot, one pass and shoot. You’re open, yes, but can we be that open later? We played hurried, thinking that we had to get the first shot that was open, because we weren’t sure we were going to get another one. In the second half, we took more time with it and didn’t have to take that first shot if we didn’t want to, and worked for a better one.”
Abby Dixon led the Gaels with 15 points, 11 of them in the second half. She also had a game-high 11 rebounds. Emily Hazlett, with 13 points, Andrea Priamo, with 11, and Robyn Pearson, with 10, were the other main contributors to a balanced Queen’s attack. Pearson pulled down 10 rebounds.
Katelyn Andrea led all scorers in the losing cause, with 17 for Lakehead, including 11 of her team’s 28 points in the second half. Jerika Baldin scored 13 for the Thunderwolves and had a game-best eight assists.
Queen's continues to dominant under the glass, out-rebounding Lakehead 61-34, including 39-7 under the Gaels' defensive glass.
The Gaels resume play Friday night, when they will host the West division-leading Western Mustangs at 6 p.m. After starting their season 3-3, the Mustangs have won nine in a row.