Well, I was planning to put this edition of Five For Pondering up Thursday night so to include the excellent crop of midweek games this week, but work got in the way. Thus, this one will feature the top five games to consider from last weekend through Thursday. I'll run another edition on Monday or Tuesday looking at the best games from this weekend.
Game of the past week:
Women's basketball: Queen's 53, Carleton 52 (my Queen's Journal story is here, my blog posts are here and here), and the Queen's Athletics recap (now with video!) is here).
Why it's notable: The most unusual ending I've ever seen in any basketball game.
The setup: This looked like a bit of a mismatch coming in. Carleton was 10-4 coming in, while Queen's was 6-9 and had just lost 71-50 to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees on the previous night. In the Ottawa game, Queen's hit just 25 per cent of their field goal attempts and 10 per cent of their three-point attempts, and OUA-leading scorer Brittany Moore was held to just five points and one field goal. It was a performance head coach Dave Wilson described as "brain-dead", and it certainly didn't suggest that the Gaels would put up a fight Saturday.
Meanwhile, Carleton was rolling. They had cleaned up in their previous three games, beating Laurentian 63-51, York 64-31 and RMC 71-35. They needed a win to keep pace with Ottawa and Toronto, though, so beating a lesser light such as Queen's was rather important.
The game: Don't believe the OUA box score: it's actually flipped, as the first and second quarters on there represent the third and fourth quarters. The night started as an incredible defensive efforts on both parts, and the first quarter ended with the score tied at 7. Queen's picked it up in the second and took a 24-18 lead into halftime. Carleton fought back in the second half, closing the gap to three by the end of the third quarter and setting the stage for the zany ending. With 36 seconds left and the score tied at 48, Carleton coach Taffe Charles called his final time out and drew up a perfect play to isolate Kelly Killoran, who knocked down an open three-ball to give Carleton a 51-48 lead with 29 seconds left.
On the Gaels' next possession, Kendra Walker-Roche responded with a quick drive and layup to cut the deficit to one. The Gaels then fouled Carleton star Tanya Perry, who hit one of two to restore a two-point lead for the Ravens with 15 seconds left. Queen's head coach Dave Wilson called a time out, and the Gaels came out with an unusual play. Despite being only down by two, they got the ball to Moore and she launched a three-ball with six seconds left that hit nothing but air. However, Carleton was called for a shooting foul on the play and Moore was sent to the line with three shots. Both coaches called their players over while Moore was shooting, which isn't unusual.
What came next was bizarre, though. Moore missed the first shot and hit the second. However, Charles lost track of how many shots she'd taken and didn't send his players back before the ref gave Moore the ball for a third shot. Wilson caught on and held his own players back to avoid a lane violation, while assistant coach Tim Orpin yelled at Moore to miss. The Ravens realized what was going on and started back, but it was much too late. Moore missed the shot, grabbed her rebound and hit a wide-open layup with no defender within 15 feet, giving Queen's a 53-52 lead. Carleton tried a last-second buzzer-beater, but it fell short and the Gaels hung on for the unusual win. Their 53 points were a season-low at that point, but the victory was all that mattered.
After the game, Charles told me, Mike Koreen of the Kingston Whig-Standard and Mike Grobe of Queen's Athletics that he took full responsibility for the loss. "It was totally my mistake," he said. "We didn’t have any timeouts left so I thought I’d get a timeout in without actually having a timeout. I lost count of how many shots were being taken. When I realized the third shot was being taken, I was like ‘Oh, we are in trouble.’"
Wilson said it was the most unusual ending he'd ever seen, which is quite something considering his years of coaching. "In 28 years, I’ve never seen that kind of a finish to a game," he said. "Do I want to win that way? No. Do I want to win? Yes, so I’ll take it."
The star: The key player here was Moore, and not just for her late-game heroics. She rebounded nicely from her forgettable outing against Ottawa on the previous night, hitting nine of 20 field-goal attempts and putting up 21 points to lead the Gaels. Alaina Porter also had a good game for Queen's with 10 points on five-of-eight shooting and five rebounds.
The aftermath: The effects of this one weren't far-reaching. Carleton rebounded to beat the Gee-Gees 62-53 [OUA box score] in the Capital Hoops Classic on Wednesday, while the Gaels fell 48-46 to Ryerson [Chris Thompson, Queen's Athletics] yesterday and continued their Friday night winless streak. Still, this may be a crucial game when it comes down to deciding playoff seedings in the tight OUA East [OUA standings].
The four honorable mentions:
Women's hockey: St. Francis Xavier 3, Moncton 2 (shootout) [Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information]
Why it's notable: It took 16 shooters for the No. 7 X-Women (#5 in RPI) to beat the No. 6 Aigles Bleus (#1 in RPI), and this one could very well be a preview of the AUS final. Both of these teams have already clinched playoff spots and may wind up battling again down the stretch. Moncton has the first and third top scorers in the AUS in Marieve Provost and Kristine Labrie while X has the other two of the top four in Brayden Ferguson and Christina Davis.
Men's basketball: Trinity Western 73, SFU 72 [Scott McLean, SFU Athletics]
Why it's notable: A Thursday night clash of two of the top teams in the Canada West conference saw the Spartans (#10 in the coaches' poll, #4 in RPI) come away with a win over the Clan (unranked by the coaches, #9 in RPI) on the road off a last-second buzzer beater by Jacob Doerksen, their leading scorer who saw limited time due to injury but still put up 11 points, 11 boards, four assists and three steals [Neate's Top 10 Tracker, this blog]. Trinity fell 92-74 to the Clan the next night at home, but the Spartans' Louis Hurd put up 55 points across the two nights. He's one to watch.
Men's volleyball: Brandon Bobcats 3, Calgary Dinos 0 (set scores: 25-15, 25-16, 25-18) [Jeremy Sawatzky, Brandon Sports Information]
Why it's notable: The 6-6 Bobcats had lost three straight matches by lopsided scores but were still ranked 9th in both the coaches' poll and the RPI. The 11-3 Dinos were ranked third by the coaches and had won six straight matches, but Rob's RPI had them at seventh. That perhaps proved prophetic, as the Bobcats demolished them in straight sets. The impact's reduced slightly by Brandon playing at home, but it's still quite an upset. Player of the match has to be Brandon
All-Canadian left-side hitter Paul Sanderson, who put up 12 kills and five service aces. This one shows that the top teams in Canada West are all pretty close, which will make the playoffs very interesting.
Men's basketball: Carleton 87, Ottawa 72 [Carleton Athletics, also see Neate's excellent live blog]
Why it's notable: It's not often that you get to see the number-one and number-two teams clash in the regular season, and that's made even more special when they play at a venue like Scotiabank Place and the match is shown live on The Score. (By the way, huge props to The Score for showing the women's game as well: many TV and radio stations would not have bothered). Carleton proved that they're still the class of CIS basketball with a strong, consistent performance. The starting lineups weren't that different, but the Ravens showed their impressive depth off. They were fresher down the stretch and outscored Ottawa 28-18 in the fourth quarter. Stu Turnbull, Aaron Doornekamp and Kevin McCleery all had huge games for the Ravens, putting up 29, 21 and 21 points respectively. Former Syracuse player Josh Wright and Josh Gibson-Bascombe each had 18 for the Gee-Gees. This one showed that everyone else still has some catching up to do against the Ravens.