February 7, 2018
Ryerson 88 York 71
TORONTO - The Ryerson Rams show up as a unit on the road.
In their final road trip of the regular season, the Rams survived a comeback attempt to defeat the York Lions 88-71 at the Tait McKenzie Gym on Wednesday afternoon. The victory leaves the Rams with temporary control of third place in the OUA East standings.
The first and second quarters could not have been any more separated, as the Lions made a spectacular push to come within 10 at 41-31 by halftime despite trailing 22-9 after the first quarter. Gianmarco Luciani (Maple, Ont.) went on a tear of high effectiveness from the three to account for 18 of the Lions’ points by half. However, the Rams would continue to see a strong scoring output from players such as Adam Voll (Kitchener, Ont.) and Filip Vujadinovic (Burlington, Ont.).
That strong showing by the Lions was all that the Rams needed to kick into gear in the second half. Roshane Roberts (Vaughan, Ont.) lead the Rams’ scoring for the second consecutive game, closely followed by Vujadinovic. While usual scoring leader Manny Diressa (Toronto, Ont.) saw limited playing time, five Rams put up over ten points - Vujadinovic and JV Mukama (Hamilton, Ont.) with double-doubles - for a promising full-team effort late in the season.
Waterloo 90 McMaster 108
Continuing to tear through divisional rivals as the OUA season rapidly nears its end, the Marauders added another important win to their tally at the expense of the Waterloo Warriors Wednesday.
McMaster led early and often, beating Waterloo 108-90 to record their third straight win and improve to 7-14 in OUA play.
With the win, the Marauders passed the Warriors to take over fifth position in the OUA West standings, further solidifying their hold on a playoff position with three games remaining in their conference schedule.
The guard duo of Kareem Collins (Hamilton, ON) and Miles Seward (Toronto, ON) put their shooting prowess on display, leading the Marauders in scoring for the night.
Collins had himself an impressive first half of play, scoring all of his 22 points for the night in the opening 20 minutes. He shot 62 per cent from the field, while adding seven rebounds and three assists.
Marauders leading scorer Seward entered the game averaging 20.1 points per game and only improved on that mark, scoring 26 in his team's victory. The Marauders guard shot 60 per cent from the field while going 4-7 from beyond the arc.
Despite his team's loss, Nedim Hodzic registered himself a double-double, scoring 32 points and 12 rebounds, while shooting 55 (11-20) per cent from the field. Teammate Justin Hardy finished with 22 points of his own.
In the first quarter, the Marauders got out to an early lead while also putting the Warriors into foul trouble, entering the bonus with 3:31 to play. The quarter closed with Mac ahead 33-19 and things would not get much better for the Warriors from there.
The Marauders were quick to haul down rebounds on both ends of the court, out rebounding the Warriors 52 to 39.
As the game reached halftime, the Marauders extended their lead to 61-39, leaning on the shooting performances of Collins and Seward.
McMaster exploited the Warriors 1-3-1 defensive setup, swinging the ball around the perimeter faster than Waterloo could shift and eventually finding open shots.
Western 93 Laurier 84
WATERLOO, Ont. – Four Western players scored in double-digits to lead the Mustangs to a 93-84 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks on Wednesday night at the University of Waterloo's Physical Activities Complex.
The win gives Western a 14-7 regular season record and they occupy second place in the OUA West, while the Laurier Golden Hawks trail two spots behind, with an updated record of 9-12.
Henry Tan took charge this game, coming off the bench to lead the Mustangs with 20 points. Omar Shiddo, Eriq Jenkins, and Marko Kovac followed closely behind, scoring 19, 15, and 10 points respectively. Christopher Clegg also had a strong game, recording seven points of his own while leading the purple and white with seven rebounds.
Kemel Archer of the Golden Hawks scored a game-high 21 points to go along with eight rebounds. Tevaun Kokko also had an effective offensive night with 18 points, while Ntore Habimana pulled down nine boards to lead Laurier's rebounding efforts.
Western came out with a quick tempo to match Laurier's fast-paced offence. As both team traded buckets throughout the first frame, Shiddo was able to be a large proponent for the Mustangs, nailing seven points. The Golden Hawks continued to push, crashing the offensive glass to grab several boards and force a handful of second-chance points. However, Western held steady, continuing to use the shot clock well and lead 27-25 to head into the second quarter.
The second frame proved to be reminiscent of the first 10 minutes, both teams keeping the game tight. Western continued their steady string of shooting, beginning the quarter with a 7-0 run. As the purple and white fell into a rhythm, the Golden Hawks weren't able to match their pace, and Western was able to pad their lead to finish off the half 54-42.
The beginning of the third quarter began with a change of pace, with both teams slowing down and defence becoming the emphasis. Western was able to adjust accordingly, tightening up its defence to force shots and shutting down Laurier's attempts at the basket. On the other end, the Mustangs made use of their opportunity by stretching out the shot clock and using their speed to poke holes through the zone of the Golden Hawks. Being relatively even, the lead remained fairly stable with Western ending the quarter with a 73-62 lead.
Western's lead would prove to be too much for the Golden Hawks to overcome, with Western walking away with a 93-84 win.
February 9, 2018
Guelph 76 Waterloo 87
The Warriors picked up a massive two points on Friday night in a 87-76 win over Guelph, in what was their final regular season home game of 2018.
The win moved Waterloo's record to 8-14, good for fifth overall in the OUA west with 16 points, putting them that much closer to a post-season berth.
McMaster is is two back for the sixth and final playoff spot while Guelph sits outside the playoff picture with their 5-16 record.
Nedim Hodzic (Waterloo/Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary) did Nedim Hodzic (Waterloo/Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary) things on Friday night surpassing the 30 point total for the seventh time this season.
Hodzic put up 31 points to lead all scorers going 15-for-26 including two emphatic dunks down the stretch.
Hodzic also added to his U SPORTS leading total on the boards with 16 more. Hodzic continues to lead the country in reboudns per game with 11.6 and is second in OUA in points per game at 23.5.
Simon Petrov (Waterloo/Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary) put up a nice point total with 20 points in the game while Justin Malnerich (Cambridge/St. Benedict's Catholic Secondary School) hit four from beyond the arc, giving him 12 points off the bench. Rounding out Waterloo's offence was Evan Rodenburg(Cambridge/St. Benedict's Catholic Secondary School) who had nine while Justin Hardy (Waterloo/Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary) had eight.
Waterloo and Guelph shot relatively the same percentage from the field with the Warriors firing at 45.3% while the visitors operated at 41.3%, but the difference for the home side came on the glass as Waterloo out rebounded the Gryphons 46-33.
The Warriors will prepare for the Gryphons once again when the two meet this coming Wednesday in Guelph.
Toronto 90 Queen’s 80
Sage Usher had a career night to push the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men's basketball team to a 90-80 victory over the Queen's Gaels on Friday night (Feb. 9) in Kingston, Ont.
Down 43-31 at the beginning of the third quarter, Usher caught fire. The fourth-year guard drained four three-pointers en route to 22 points in the second half to complete the season sweep of the Gaels. The geography major ended up going 10-for-17 on the night for a career-high 27 points, while adding seven rebounds and three assists in the win.
Evan Shadkami, who dropped 18 points in Toronto's last meeting with Queen's, followed it up with 17 points off the bench. Reilly Reid and Christopher Barrett each chipped in with 13 of their own.
Toronto outscored the Gaels by 21 points in the second half to improve their record to 10-10. They're currently two games up on Nipissing for the final playoff spot in the OUA East division. On the other hand, Queen's holds the fourth spot in the same division with an 11-9 record on the season.
U of T kept pace with the Gaels from the opening tip. Seven different Blues recorded a basket for Toronto to keep the score within one (19-18) after the first quarter.
Queen's hopped out to a 14-4 run early in the second quarter and maintained that momentum into halftime, leading by 12.
At the start of the third quarter it became the Usher show. He dropped 12 points in the frame, which was only three shy of the amount Queen's tallied in the entire frame. Toronto only trailed 58-54 heading into the final quarter.
The team continued to shoot lights out in the last 10 minutes. Usher, Ried and Shadkami each scored at least 10 points in the quarter to finish the comeback.
Lakehead 87 Brock 91
The No. 2 ranked Brock University men's basketball team defeated the Lakehead Thunderwolves by the score of 91-87 Friday night in front of a capacity crowd inside the Bob Davis Gymnasium.
The Badgers led 11-7 midway through the opening quarter, before going on a 19-7 run to take a 30-14 lead after 10 minutes. Brock extended their lead to 53-34 at the half.
In the third quarter, Lakehead opened with 12-0 run to make it 53-46 with six minutes left. The Badgers held a 64-56 lead late in the third, before the Thunderwolves closed with a 7-0 run to make it a one-point game 64-63 after 30 minutes.
With just over two minutes left in regulation, Lakehead held an 84-82 lead. Brock answered back with a 9-1 run as they escaped with the home victory, their 19th of the OUA regular season.
Brock had four players in double figures led by Cassidy Ryan finished with 26 points and four rebounds. Johneil Simpson contributed with 22 points, three rebounds and four steals while Tyler Brown (12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists), Dani Elgadi (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Daniel Cayer (9 points, 13 rebounds) rounded out the Brock leaders.
Lakehead was led by Nick Burke who recorded 15 points, four rebounds and four assists in the loss.
For the game, Brock shot 49.3% (37-75) from the field, 33.3% (5-15) from three-point land and 70.6% (12-17) from the free throw line. Lakehead went 31-65 (47.7%) from the floor, 11-27 (40.7%) from beyond the arc and 14-16 (87.5%) from the charity stripe.
Carleton 78 Nipissing 59
NORTH BAY, ON – The Nipissing Lakers hung around with the Carleton Ravens for two quarters before succumbing to Carleton’s depth in the second half and eventually falling 78-59 to head coach Dave Smart’s squad on Friday night.
Third-year guard Yasiin Joseph (Ottawa, ON) inflicted steady damage against the Lakers’ defence, scoring 21 points on 8-for-18 shooting, including 4-for-9 from three-point range, while also dishing out five assists and hauling in three rebounds.
It was a slow start on a chilly evening in North Bay. Ismael Kaba broke the initial deadlock with a three-pointer to put the Lakers ahead early, but the Ravens responded with a 13-0 run that was capped off by sophomore forward Eddie Ekiyor(Ottawa, ON), who hit a short hook shot in the lane to give Carleton a 13-3 lead. Marcus Lewis hit two free throws late in the first to trim the Ravens’ lead to 15-9 heading into the second.
The tight scoring trend from the first carried into the second, as both teams traded back-and-forth buckets over the course of the second. A deep three by Joseph boosted the margin to 23-17 three minutes into the frame, but Jaaden Lewis hit a three of his own minutes later to cut the lead back to 27-23. With Nipissing threatening a comeback attempt, the Ravens fortified and outscored the Lakers 12-7 heading into halftime.
The second quarter opened with Carleton nursing a slim 39-30 lead. Ekiyor and Joseph combined to score the Ravens’ first eight points of the half, but Nipissing battled back to trim the score to 47-42 after Justin Shaver hit a step back three-pointer with 3:04 left in the third quarter. However, fourth-year forward Mitch Jackson(Regina, SK) responded with four points late in the frame to help rebuild a 54-43 lead for the Ravens entering the fourth quarter.
Jackson’s energetic play off the bench carried over into the final frame as he continued to crash the offensive and defensive glass and disrupt the Lakers’ ability to stabilize possessions. Jackson scored a quick four points to begin the fourth quarter and eventually added another eight points in the frame via an array of short jump shots and spin moves to help him total 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the game en route to the Ravens cruising to a 78-59 victory.
Windsor 84 Algoma 104
In a high scoring affair, the Thunderbirds came out on fire Friday, putting up 34 points alone in just the first quarter to take a ten point lead after the first. Windsor rebounded in the second and put up another 25 points, but still trailed by nine heading into the break.
The second half was much of the same, as Algoma continued to capitalize on their scoring opportunities and edge the Lancers in each frame to secure the twenty point victory.
Windsor shot only 43.5% from the field, compared to Algoma's 53.4%, and were out-rebounded 37-31. The Lancers also only shot 75% from the free throw line.
Despite the loss, the Lancers had five players hit double digits. Mike Rocca and Damian Persaud each, while Lucas Orlita, Luke Allin and Anthony Zrvnar each put up 12 points.
Ottawa 99 Laurentian 90
In January, the matchup between two of the nation’s best teams ended in an eight-point victory for Laurentian at Montpetit Hall, however, on Friday, the Gee-Gees flipped the script and handed the Voyageurs a nine-point 99-90 loss in Sudbury, Ont.
Following a draining battle with the Carleton Ravens at Capital Hoops, the first leg of the Gee-Gees’ Northern Ontario provided an opportunity to shake up the national rankings and the OUA East playoff landscape.
In January’s matchup, the teams battled back and forth throughout the first three quarters, winding up tied at the end of the first and second quarters, while Laurentian held a one-point lead going into the fourth. In an eerily similar affair early, the teams were tied 19-19 after the first, Laurentian held a one-point 43-42 lead at the half.
Everything changed for the Gee-Gees in the final two frames, where offensive rhythm and defensive aggression enabled the team to take the lead and run with it.
Attacking Laurentian’s undersized forwards was successful for the Gee-Gees, Brody Maracle and Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles established a physical presence, and Kenny Jean-Louis provided a high-percentage scoring touch, the Ottawa bigs were a key difference in the game.
In his first game assuming the regular starting point guard role, third-year Calvin Epistola had a transcendent performance, leading the team with 22 points, and tacking on five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Epistola added the ability to both facilitate and attack the basket on each possession, but it was his four three-pointers that was back-breaking for the Voyageurs.
In addition to Epistola’s performance, Jean-Louis had his best game in a Gee-Gees uniform scoring 20 points, and pulling down six rebounds, topping it off with two assists. Maracle and Gage Sabean had 15 points each, while Brandon Robinson scored 13, and Pierre-Charles rounded out the six Ottawa players in double-digits with 12 points.
One effort that cannot go unnoticed was the efficacy of Ottawa’s free-throw shooting. Entering the game ranked worst in the OUA, the Gee-Gees went 16-18 shooting 88.9 per cent, besting the top-ranked Voyageurs’ 85.7 per cent on the night.
February 10, 2018
Western 82 McMaster 94
Once again adopting the role of nightmare opponent, the McMaster men's basketball team tormented the Western Mustangs for the second time in as many months Saturday.
Adding another lopsided result to the one they dished out in London in January, the 8-14 Marauders triumphed 94-82 over the 14-8 Mustangs, stretching their current winning streak to four games in the process.
Marauder centre Matt Quiring (Cambridge, ON) led his squad with a career high 23 points. He finished the game shooting an impressive 90 per cent (9-10) from the field, including two three-pointers.
The Marauders worked the paint for much of the game, changing things up from their regular game plan, as they rank second in the OUA in three-point attempts (659).
Western is another team who typically look to shoot from beyond the arc, but they struggled throughout the game to find their range from three-point territory. The Mustangs tallied only four three-pointers, shooting 19 per cent.
Marko Kovac (Windsor, ON) finished the game as the Mustangs leading scorer, with 19 points from 50 per cent shooting from the field.
The Marauders entered halftime holding onto a 46-36 lead after the opening 20 minutes of play.
Danylo Kostecki (Mississauga, ON) led the Marauders in scoring after the first half, due largely to his 60 per cent three-point percentage, creating a cushion between his squad and the Mustangs.
The Marauders outscored the Mustangs in three of the four quarter, with the visitors only finding an edge in the final 10 minutes.
Western outscored McMaster 30-24 in the fourth, but it was too little too late, as a series of drained foul shots and a Matthew Quiring two-handed slam to stamped the seal on the victory.
Lakehead 62 Brock 89
The No. 2 ranked Brock University men's basketball team rolled past the Lakehead Thunderwolves by the score of 89-62 Saturday night at the Bob Davis Gymnasium.
With the victory, Brock head coach Charles Kissi recorded his 20th OUA conference victory of the season, breaking the Badgers single season mark of 19 from the 2004-05 season.
Brock held a 33-26 lead at the half before putting up 54 points in the second half. With the score tied 26-26 late in the first half, Brock's offense answered with a 14-1 run to lead 40-27 three minutes into the third quarter. The Badgers extended that lead to 19 points, 68-49, early in the fourth quarter, on route to their OUA West leading 20th win of the season.
The Badgers had five players in double figures led by Dani Elgadi and Cassidy Ryan who recorded 18 points each. Elgadi was one rebound shy of the double-double finishing with nine boards. Tyler Brown contributed with 15 points and eight assists while Johneil Simpson and Daniel Cayer chipped in with 14 points each.
Mor Menashe led the Thunderwolves with 17 points in the loss.
The Badgers shot an impressive 57.1% (36-63) from the field 46.2% (6-13) from beyond the arc and 55.0% (11-20) from the charity stripe. Lakehead went just 21-51 (41.2%) from the floor, 9-21 (42.9%) from long range and 11-19 (57.9%) from the free throw line.
After the game, the Badgers honoured their lone senior player in fifth year forward Dani Elgadi, who has had an outstanding career as a Badger. Going into the night, Elgadi ranked 12th all-time in OUA career scoring (1656) and 4th all-time in OUA career rebounds (950). In all-time games played in a Brock uniform, Elgadi ranks fifth all-time in career scoring (2670) and 3rd in career rebounds (1463).
Windsor 83 Algoma 80
Battling snowy weather in Sault Ste Marie, the Lancer men's basketball team split a pair of games against the Algoma Thunderbirds.
Windsor dropped a 104-84 decision on Friday night before bouncing back Saturday to take the victory 83-30.
With an 11-11 record, the Lancers continue to hold onto third place in the west division standings, while the Thunderbirds move to 6-16 and four points out of a playoff position.
Mike Rocca dominated the court on Saturday, putting up a season high 36 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Blue & Gold over the Thunderbirds. Anthony Zrvnar and Lucas Orlitaalso hit double-digits with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Windsor only shot 41.7% from the field, but that was all they needed as it was still better than Algoma's 37.0%.
Windsor held a two-point lead heading into halftime, and came out strong in the third quarter to build a bit more of a cushion. The hosts, however, did not quit and pushed the Lancers right until the final buzzer.
Ryerson 86 Queen’s 78
KINGSTON, Ont. - The Ryerson Rams men's basketball team withstood a fourth quarter surge from the Queen's Gaels en route to an 86-78 victory on Saturday night.
After starting the game with an 11-0 run and holding the Gaels off the scoreboard for the first four minutes, the Rams looked to be in control early. The second half of the quarter belonged to the home side, however, as the Gaels found their touch from three point range and got to the free throw line for easy points from the charity stripe. After 10 minutes the Rams led 20-15.
The Gaels continued to convert from long range and midway through the second quarter had evened the score at 26-26. A personal 8-0 run from Roshane Roberts restored the Rams lead and at recess the visitors led 41-35.
Ryerson's defence locked down in the third quarter, limiting Queen's to just 14 points in the frame while the Rams offence was able to roll with 22 points. Heading to the final frame the Rams had restored a double digit lead at 63-49.
In the fourth, the Gaels put together a 10-0 run in the middle stages to narrow the score to a five point gap at 74-69. Rams veterans Filip Vujadinovic and Myles Charvis stabilized the Rams offence down the stretch, however, combining for six of Ryerson's final eight points to close out the victory. Vujadinovic also had a block on a late Gaels three point attempt which thwarted Queen's comeback efforts.
Vujadinovic finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double. Manny Diressa led the Rams with 20 points on the night.
Ottawa 85 Nipissing 60
It was a tough night for the Nipissing Lakers men's basketball team closed out the home portion of the 2017-18 season.
The Lakers fell 85-60 to the Ottawa Gee Gees at the RJS Athletic Centre in front of a rowdy crowd.
The Lakers played strong moving quickly and swiftly along the court, using their speed to grab a first quarter lead.
After 10 minutes, Nipissing led 23-17.
The second quarter was a show of equally matched teams as they both fought for the ball.
Even with a tough defense, Ottawa managed to overcome the Lakers and finish the second quarter up seven, 39-32.
While they were within striking distance, the second half wasn't kind to the Lakers, as they were outscored 46-28 to take control of the game.
They continued to run a tough defense forcing Ottawa to work for their shots. The third quarter ended 59-46 for Ottawa.
Nipissing kept pushing into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough to overcome Ottawa, as they game finished.
Marcus Lewis led the way with 19 points, Justin Shaver had 9 and Quinton Ashitei had 7 in Saturday's loss.
Carleton 101 Laurentian 60
SUDBURY, ON – The Ravens rode a dominant opening quarter performance that saw them close out the first frame on a 23-2 run to an eventual 101-60 victory over the Voyageurs on Saturday night at the Ben F. Avery Gymnasium.
Sophomore forward Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, ON) was a bruising presence for the Ravens, totalling 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field, while also hauling in six rebounds (five offensive) and handing out three assists in 29 minutes of court time.
The Ravens faced a tough task in the Voyageurs, who entered Saturday night’s action in second-place in the OUA East behind only Carleton. The starters led by example to begin the game as the Ravens raced out to 7-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes after Ekiyor calmly deposited a layup off the glass. Kadre Gray, the Voyageurs’ leading scorer this season quickly responded with a three-pointer, to which Litha Ncanisa added a short baseline jumper to trim the score to 7-5. But Carleton dropped the hammer on the Voyageurs’ defence throughout the rest of the first quarter with a barrage of three-pointers and interior post play that helped the Ravens build a lofty 30-7 lead entering the second quarter.
Laurentian began to find its groove offensively in the second. Samuel Ivey got things started for the Voyageurs to open the frame with a step back three-pointer before third-year guard Yasiin Joseph (Ottawa, ON) answered with a long-range strike of his own two minutes later. Although the Voyageurs managed to limit Carleton to 20 points in the quarter while adding 18 of their own, the Ravens’ two-pronged attack in the paint was too much for Laurentian to handle. Four straight free throws (two a piece) from Ekiyor and forward Cam Smythe (Vancouver, BC) brought the score to 46-23 before a late quarter layup from third-year point guard Munis Tutu (Windsor, ON) solidified a 50-25 lead for Carleton at halftime.
Smythe continued his steady performance in the third quarter, scoring eight of the Ravens’ first 10 points of the second half via a mix of jumpers from the elbow and hook shots in the post. Carleton’s lead showed no signs of slowing as Gray was limited to just 14 minutes of action and five field goal attempts. A three-pointer from guard Mitch Wood (Guelph, ON) closed out the quarter with Carleton ahead 74-38.
With Gray a non-factor, the Voyageurs had to find secondary sources of scoring in the fourth quarter. Haroun Mohamed came off the bench in the fourth and provided a much-needed, albeit a late arriving, jolt for Laurentian. Mohamed converted on a three-point attempt 90 seconds into the frame before intercepting a pass and finding Ivey for a fast-break layup. However, with the lead already secure at 83-46, Carleton rode its bench for the final eight minutes of the game to secure an emphatic 101-60 win.
Toronto 80 York 75
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues men's basketball team overcame a 26-point deficit to defeat the York Lions 80-75 on Saturday night (Feb. 10) at the Tait McKenzie Centre.
A massive reason for the Blue victory over their crosstown rivals was free throw shooting. The team went 29-of-31 from the charity stripe in the second half. Their ability to drill those important shots allowed them to clinch a playoff spot.
The Blues record improves to 11-10 as they are tied with Queen's for the fifth spot in the OUA East division.
Sage Usher registered a team-high 14 points and added three rebounds. Evan Shadkami and Nikola Paradina recorded 13 and 11 points, respectfully.
York's Gene Spagnuolo went 6-of-8 from deep for a career-high 28 points. He added six rebounds and four assists in the losing effort.
U of T was cold in the first half. They shot 30 percent from the field, compared to York's 55.6%. The Lions also drained seven three-pointers to be up 40-25 at halftime.
The team continued to fight throughout the contest despite being down by 26 points in the third quarter.
Down 63-48 early in the fourth quarter, Toronto sparked a 9-0 run and completed the comeback with a Christopher Barrett three-pointer with 2:45 to go in the fourth. It marked the Blues first lead of the game and they didn't look back.
February 11, 2018
Guelph 61 Laurier 75
WATERLOO, Ont. (February 12, 2018) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men's basketball team put an end to their three-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon as they jumped on the Guelph Gryphons early and rolled to a 75-61 victory on Seniors Day to clinch home court advantage in the first round of the OUA playoffs.
While the victory may have been important in the standings, the afternoon was about recognizing the Hawks lone graduating player, Kitchener’s Vlad Matovic.
The big man has had a very successful five-year tenure at Laurier, earning Academic All-Canadian honours three times while serving as a key presence for the purple and gold in the middle.
Asked post-game about Matovic’s impact both on and off the court, Hawks Head Coach Justin Serresse beamed with pride.
“One of the most unselfish players I have coached, one of the smartest people I have known, and more importantly a stand-up guy, ten out of ten,” he said, “I am proud of him as a person, a basketball player, and a student.”
It was a perfect storm on Sunday for Matovic, able to return for Sunday’s contest after an 11-game absence due to injury.
He got the start and finished with five points and six rebounds.
It was clear that his teammates were ready and willing to put in the work to get him a win, putting questions of their defence from the previous two games to rest early, holding the Gryphons (5-17) without a point for over five minutes to begin the game.
Thrown completely out of sync by the Hawks (10-12) intensity, Guelph could hardly string two passes together in the early going, turning the ball over 13 times in the first half alone.
The purple and gold were able to punish the visitors for their lack of execution, running out to 39-22 halftime lead, capped by a dagger three from Tevaun Kokko (Markham, Ont.) at the horn, right in his defender’s face.
“I was very happy with the way we came out of the gates,” said Serresse, “It was the team I was hoping to see the last two games.”
Pushing the lead to as many as 25 points in the second half, the Hawks were never truly challenged despite a strong fourth quarter from the Gryphons.
Ali Sow (Ottawa, Ont.) saw his strong form continue following Laurier Male Athlete of the Week honours, scoring a game-high 20 in the win. Kokko was right behind at 19, while Ntore Habimana (Mississauga, Ont.) knocked down two deep three-pointers from distance, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds.
With at least fourth place in the OUA West standings clinched, the Hawks can only move up to third when they play the Lakehead Thunderwolves (2-20) in their final two games of the regular season next weekend in Thunder Bay. With the Windsor Lancers sitting one game ahead of Laurier with a mark of 11-11, the purple and gold will need to win both and hope for some favourable results elsewhere to slide up a position.