Rams rookie’s silky shooting not enough as team falls in season opener

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By Armen Zargarian

The Rams men’s basketball team came up short on Friday, Nov. 5 dropping their season and home opener to the Queen’s Gaels 81-87 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).

Earlier this week Rams guard Eli Farrakhan tweaked his right ankle in practice, which meant additional playing time for first-year guard Ankit Choudhary. The first-year guard delivered when opportunity called. 

Choudhary poured in a team-high 25 points on better than 50 per cent shooting. He added four rebounds and four assists on his way to being the Rams best performer of the night. 

“I’m a three-point shooter, everything else feeds off that,” said Choudhary. “Whether it’s creating for others or getting my own. I’m just trying to find out the perfect balance for that.”

Throughout most of the game, the Rams seemed up for the test of knocking off a veteran Queen’s team. Even before tip-off there were no signs that suggested any tightness or nerves from the Rams.

The intensity of the game was evident from the first quarter, with both teams being overaggressive and picking up fouls 20 metres from their own basket. Besides a few missed defensive miscues, including some over-helping, the inexperience of the Rams hardly showed.

The Rams tightened up the defensive screws in the second quarter, getting into the Gaels more and making offensive sets difficult. They went on to win the quarter by 10 points and took a 42-34 lead into halftime.

Queen’s came out composed in the third quarter, gaining momentum with a pair of fastbreak dunks. The Rams fought to keep their lead, showing multiple defensive efforts in the paint and on the glass. 

Rams head coach David DeAveiro kept his rotation fluid, going with the flow of the game and the performance of his team. He mostly stuck to a small-ball lineup featuring only one big man at a time. 

The see-saw quarter ended with the Rams clinging onto a four point lead. 

But things changed quickly in the final quarter. The Gaels caught fire from deep, hitting seven three-pointers in the fourth quarter, more than the Rams had all game. 

The Rams had problems finding their own shooters and closing out. All of a sudden, the Gaels led 76-67 with less than seven minutes remaining. 

“It’s understanding personnel, understanding what they want to do and what certain guys are able to do,” said Rams assistant coach Mario Celebre. 

Celebre specifically mentioned Gaels veteran guard Quinton Gray, who caught fire down the stretch, hitting six three-pointers and finished with 23 points.

“He really showed his leadership and what he can do at the end of games,” said Celebre. “It’s something we’re going to learn from and make adjustments moving forward.” 

On the offensive side, the Rams were stifled in the fourth, driving the ball into traffic on more than one occasion. 

“We were stagnant a lot on offence and that’s not how we usually play at our best,” said Choudhary. 

The Rams were never able to gain back the ground they lost in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter. However, they’ll have a chance to make-up for the loss on Sunday in a rematch against the Gaels.

UP NEXT: The Rams host the Gaels once more on Nov. 7 at the MAC. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.

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