OUA Men's Basketball Roundup (Jan. 15)

Photo by Brock Badgers
Photo by Brock Badgers

January 10th, 2018

Laurier 83 Guelph 65

GUELPH, Ont. (January 11, 2018) – “Our best defensive quarter of the year” was how Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men's basketball Head Coach Justin Serresse described the second quarter of Wednesday night’s matchup at the Gryphon Athletic Centre in Guelph. Laurier held the Guelph Gryphons to just six points on offence, buoying them to an 18-point halftime lead, an advantage that would stand up as their Hawks picked up their second consecutive win with an 83-65 victory over the Gryphons.

The first quarter saw even, back and forth play, with Guelph (3-10) grabbing a two-point lead after one. However, the script quickly flipped at the start of the second, with the next 10 minutes serving as one-way traffic for the Hawks (5-8). Not only anticipating everything the Gryphons threw their way on defence, the purple and gold had no struggles putting the ball in the bucket on the other end, a team-effort all the way around in taking a 44-26 lead at half.

Coming out of the half, the offence slowed down for the Hawks but Ali Sow (Ottawa, Ont.) stepped up to make some big shots in the third when it looked as though the Gryphons may be starting to rally back. Coach Serresse liked Sow’s mentality Wednesday, saying “he was in attack mode, he got some great looks and was aggressive the whole game.”

Sow finished with a game-high 20 points.

The purple and gold were able to weather the lull on offence quite effectively, maintaining that comfortable double-digit lead all the way through the second half. The Gryphons’ frustration started to boil over in the final minutes of the fourth. A technical, along with some other poor decisions put any hope of a comeback to rest. The Hawks were steadfast with their intensity, not letting up until the final horn sounded.

U SPORTS Athlete of the Week Tevaun Kokko (Markham Ont.) picked up 19 points for the Hawks while Kemel Archer (Brampton, Ont.) had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds to continue his outstanding play to kick off 2018.

Rookie Vincent Carriere (London, Ont.) started for the first time as a Golden Hawk, and Serresse was impressed with his effort in guarding Gryphons star guard Daniel Dooley (Burlington, Ont.), who managed only seven points on the evening.

Source: laurierathletics.com

 


 

McMaster 60 Waterloo 78

The Waterloo men's basketball team is rolling in 2018 as the black and gold picked up their third win of the New Year and fourth straight with a big 78-60 win over McMaster on Wednesday night at the PAC. It's the first four game win streak for the program since November of 2008.


The Warriors used a big fourth quarter, outscoring the visitors 22-8 to cruise to their sixth win of the season. With the win Waterloo is now just one game below .500 at 6-7 while McMaster fell to 2-11.

Simon Petrov (Waterloo/Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary) was very solid in his 32 minutes of action with 24 points going 11-for-21 from the field and 2-for-4 from the line. He also brought in a career high nine rebounds.  Nedim Hodzic (Waterloo/Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary) put up 17 points and nine boards while David Ramon Prados (Madrid/Virgen de Atocha (North Platte College)) had 13 and eight.

Despite not putting up any points, rookie Cameron Penner (Collingwood/Collingwood Collegiate Institute) was a defensive force with seven rebounds, one steal and a game high four blocks. Penner was a big factor in his squad giving up just eight fourth quarter points.

For McMaster, David McCulloch did most of the damage leading all scorers with 25 points in a losing effort.

Source: athletics.uwaterloo.ca

 


 

January 12th, 2018

Carleton 97 Queen’s 68

KINGSTON, ON – The Ravens took care of business on Friday night at Queen’s University as they dealt the Golden Gaels a 97-68 loss to remain undefeated 13 games into the season.

Third-year guard Yasiin Joseph (Ottawa, ON) exploded for 20 of his game-high 22 points in the first half alone. Joseph, who played 22 minutes, scored a point per minute on average and shot 7-for-12 on the night, while also pulling down six rebounds and handing out two assists.

GAME FLOW:

Joseph arrived a man on a mission. Those who made the trip to the ARC were treated to one of the best performances of the young third-year guard’s U Sports career. Joseph scored the Ravens’ first six points. A short jump shot by sophomore forward Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, ON) pushed the score to 9-0 before Queen’s got on the board following a three-pointer by Tanner Graham. Graham’s three was the initial flame of a 14-0 run that helped Queen’s enter the second quarter leading 20-17.

Mat Elcock got things started in the second with yet another three-pointer for Queen’s. But the six-point lead was as far as they would get. Joseph built on his hot start by pouring in 14 points in the second quarter, including four three-pointers. The fourth long-range strike gave Carleton a 44-34 lead with 1:18 left in the half. Fourth-year forward Mitch Jackson (Regina, SK) hit a baseline jumper with five seconds to go in the half to put the Ravens up 49-34 at the break.

Although Joseph’s 20-point first half eruption helped Carleton stage a comfortable lead, it was their defence that dictated the second half. The Ravens used tight defensive rotations to clog the Golden Gaels’ passing lanes and force several late shot clock situations. Joseph was held scoreless in the third as Queen’s adapted to his hot shooting, but this opened the door for guard Eman Owootoah (Rexdale, ON) to add 12 points in the frame. Jackson, already no stranger to late quarter plays, hit a corner three-pointer off a crafty setup from point guard Munis Tutu (Windsor, ON) to give Carleton a 73-48 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter proved much of the same for the Ravens. Head coach Dave Smart’s squad opened the final frame on a 9-2 run thanks to early quarter tallies from the game’s usual suspects in Joseph, Owootoah and Jackson. Queen’s answered Carleton’s early quarter spurt with a run of their own. Quinton Gray and Vincent Wood sunk a string of jumpers to bring Carleton’s lead south of 30 points, but it wasn’t enough as a late-game three by guard Troy Reid-Knight (Vaughan, ON) capped off 97-68 victory.

Source: goravens.ca

 


 

Lakehead 75 Western 84

LONDON, Ont. – A 26-point second quarter gave the Mustangs a lead they wouldn't relinquish as Western defeated the Lakehead Thunderwolves 84-75 on Friday night at Alumni Hall.
 
"We usually come out a little bit flat, a little bit lifeless at times, and do a better job of that in the second half," said head coach Brad Campbell. "We need to be better defensively, we had a couple of stretches there in the first and fourth quarter where we fell apart."
 
"We started off sluggish. I know what I'm capable of and this was my kind of way to get us going," said guard Omar Shiddo on his offensive performance in the second quarter that helped spark the Mustangs offence.
 
With the win, the Mustangs will move to 7-6, and continue to hold down second in the OUA West. The Thunderwolves' loss updates their record to 1-12 on the year.
 
Four Mustangs recorded double digits in the win, with Marco Kovac leading the charge with a game-high 26 points, followed by Shiddo, Eriq Jenkins, and Henry Tan, who scored 19, 14, and 13 points, respectively.
 
Jenkins, Nikola Farkic, and Christopher Clegg led Western's rebounding efforts, all recording six boards a piece.
 
Mor Menashe led the Thunderwolves' offence with 22 points, followed by Quincy Johnson who dropped 11 points. Darnell Curtin and Jack Bull helped on the boards, both pulling down six rebounds each.  
 
The first quarter began with an exchange of buckets, with no team being able to come out in front. However, defensive breakdowns by the Mustangs enabled the Thunderwolves to open up the floor and kick it out to their three-point shooters; going 3-5 from beyond the arc, helping give Lakehead a 25-19 lead after 10 minutes.
 
The second frame was a different story for Western. An improved defensive effort helped them come up with stops. They combined that with an improved offensive pace, as the Mustangs took advantage of their skill from the three-point line to sink four baskets from long range in three minutes. Shiddo played a key role in the frame, heating up on a solo 8-0 run, and helping Western lead 45-39 at halftime.
 
The third quarter consisted of a back and forth affair, with neither team making much of dent on the Western lead for much of the frame. However, a 6-0 run in the final minute helped the Mustangs widen the gap to double digits, leading 64-52 heading into the final quarter.
 
Despite the Thunderwolves continuing to push to tie things up, the Mustangs lead was too much to overcome, with the purple and white taking an 84-75 win.

Source: westernmustangs.ca

 


 

Ottawa 87 York 44

The York University Lions men's basketball team suffered an 87-44 loss to the No. 7 nationally-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees in their first home game of 2018 on Friday night at the Tait McKenzie Centre.
 
The strong Gee-Gees squad shot over 50 per cent from the floor and from behind the arc while holding the Lions to just 21.9 per cent from the floor. That discrepancy led to a dominating four quarters for the visitors, who outscored the Lions in each frame for the lopsided victory.
 
Ottawa had four players score in double digits, led by reserve guard Gage Sabean. He put up a game-high 22 points in just 19 minutes of action, on 8-of-9 shooting, including 5-of-5 from behind the three-point line. He also added four rebounds and two assists.
 
Also reaching double digits were Sean Stoqua with 12 points, and Brody Maracle and Alex Muise with 10 points apiece.
 
Having a big game for the Lions was Chevon Brown, who totalled 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal in 25 minutes of action off the bench. Prince Kamunga led the Lions with six rebounds to go along with seven points.
 
The Lions now sit at 2-11 on the season, while the Gee-Gees improved to 11-2.

Source: yorkulions.ca

 


 

Ryerson 83 Laurentian 88

After trailing for the majority of the game, the Voyageurs men's basketball team was able to successfully strike back in the fourth quarter, outscoring their opponent 32-20. This effort resulted in the team coming away with their eleventh victory of the season, this time over the Ryerson Rams with a final score of 88-83. 

Second year guard, Kadre Gray earned his third triple-double of the season, contributing 26 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. Senior forward Nelson Yengue added a double-double of his own tallying 18 points and 12 rebounds in the victory. 

Another key factor to the Voyageurs' success seemed to be getting to and finishing at the foul line. The team shot 77% on their 35 visits to the charity stripe in contrast to their opponent's 75% on 20 attempts.

Top scorer for the visiting Rams was Manny Diressa with 32 points.

Source: luvoyageurs.com

 


 

Toronto 62 Nipissing 58

Rookie guard Evan Shadkami scored 17 second-half points to lead the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men's basketball team to a 62-58 victory over the Nipissing Lakers on Friday, January 12 in North Bay, Ont.
 
With the win, the Blues improve to 7-6 and remain in sixth place in the OUA East division, while the Lakers drop to 6-6 and sit seventh.
 
Shadkami went 6-for-10 from the floor, and 4-for-8 from beyond the arc, en route to a career- and season-high 20-point performance. He added four rebounds, one assist and one steal in the win.
 
Third-year forward Daniel Johansson recorded 12 points and six boards, while fourth-year veteran Sage Usher had 11 points, a team-high eight rebounds, two steals and one assist.
 
Leading 13-11 after the first quarter, the Blues slipped up in the second frame, allowing the Lakers to outscore them 21-9 and take a 32-22 lead into halftime. Shadkami then stepped up, draining nine points to end the third quarter and cut the deficit to just one heading into the final frame.
 
The Varsity Blues are back in action tomorrow night as they head to Sudbury to take on the No. 8 Laurentian Voyageurs. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Source: varsityblues.ca

 


 

Brock 79 Algoma 46

The No. 2 ranked Brock University men's basketball team defeated the Algoma Thunderbirds by the score of 79-46 Friday night on the road.

Brock trailed 6-4 in the early minutes of the opening quarter before going on a 25-4 run to take a 29-10 lead with less than a minute left in the first quarter. The Badgers led 41-25 at the half, and closed out the game with an 18-4 run improving their OUA West record to 11-2.

Leading the Badgers offense was senior Dani Elgadi who recorded 25 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double. Tyler Brown and Johneil Simpson both contributed with 14 points each, while Kascius Small-Martinrounded out the Brock leaders finishing with eight points and four rebounds.

For the game, the Badgers shot 40.5% (30-74) from the field, 16.7% (3-18) from beyond the arc and 84.2% (16-19) from the free throw line. Algoma went 15-57 (26.3%) from the floor, 9-23 (39.1%) from three-point land and 7-11 (63.6%) from the charity stripe.

Source: gobadgers.ca

 


 

Windsor 97 Waterloo 95

For the second straight game, the Lancer men's basketball team was put to the test and this time came out on the right side of the decision with a 97-95 win over the Waterloo Warriors on Friday night in Waterloo.
 
Windsor found themselves down early as the Warriors built a small but sustainable first half lead early and maintained it throughout the first two quarters. The Lancers however, were never out of striking distance. Relying on a barrage of three point shots, the Lancers were finding success behind the arc. Down by three with the buzzer on its way Windsor  tied it up on a nice buzzer beating three by Lucas Orlita to tie the game at 45 heading into the break.
 
In the second half the Warriors started off exactly the same as they started, retaking the lead with a 19-4 run and maintaining it throughout most of the third frame. The Lancers however began to fight back late in the third quarter and into the fourth. Led by Chris Poloniato's 21 points Windsor took the lead late into the fourth quarter. Despite the Warriors late rally, the Lancers held on to win in a close one, 97-95.
 
In addition to Poloniato, Marcus Jones also led the Lancers with 21 points, while Orlita finished the game with 17 points and Anthony Zrvnar had 16.

Source: golancers.ca

 


 

January 13th, 2018

Laurier 79 McMaster 64

HAMILTON (January 14, 2018) – Looking to run their win-streak to three on Saturday afternoon at the Burridge Gymnasium in Hamilton, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men's basketball team managed just that, overwhelming the McMaster Marauders with their pace on route to a convincing 79-64 victory.

Following a sluggish start to 2018, just a week and a half later, things are looking much brighter for the purple and gold. With Head Coach Justin Serresse urging the group to get back to their high-octane brand of basketball, the Hawks have responded in spades, demonstrating a strong defensive effort while playing efficiently on the offensive end of the floor. 

Holding their opponent under 70 points for the second straight game, Serresse credits an increased commitment to getting stops on the defensive end as well as a team-first mentality as the primary reasons for the Hawks’ (6-8) turnaround.

The coach commented post-game that “Everyone is playing for each other. They know that, if they ever need help, the next guy has their back.”

Often going unseen is the impact that the work put in on the defensive end has on offence. This has been a major factor for the purple and gold. More stops have allowed the Hawks to impose their pace getting out in transition. 

This was clear to see on Saturday as Laurier constantly had the Marauders (2-12) back on their heels and out of position. A staggering 28 fast-break points in the first half alone were key to the Hawks breaking open a sizable 51-33 lead at halftime.

Coming out of the half, McMaster proved they still had some life in them, cutting down the margin to 11 at several different points. David McCulloch (Hamilton) was an important figure for the Marauders, playing all but one minute and accounting for nearly half of his team’s points, going for 27 on the night.

Holding Mac at bay was some timely three-point shooting from the Hawks, especially from rookie guard Ali Sow (Ottawa), who showcased a range that went far beyond the arc in knocking down five of his eight triples on the afternoon, finishing with a career-high 24 points off the bench.

Tevaun Kokko (Markham, Ont.) had 17, while Ntore Habimana (Mississauga, Ont.) had eight boards and five assists in the victory.

The purple and gold have been on fire from deep during their past three, shooting a combined 43.6 percent over that span, which has moved them to number one in the OUA in three-point percentage at 36.3 percent, just ahead of none other than U SPORTS No. 1 Carleton.

Serresse believes the marked improvement stems from a combination of better pace, ball movement, and confidence from seeing a lot of their good looks find the hole. 

Despite scoring only 10 points in the third, the defence and three-point shooting proved enough to put away the Marauders, whom ultimately lacked the firepower beyond McCulloch to mount a full comeback.

Now locked in a three-way tie for third in the OUA West, the Hawks have an opportunity ahead as they welcome in an Algoma Thunderbirds team that has lost five in a row for a pair next weekend. These games, scheduled for Friday, January 19 and Saturday, January 20, are currently shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty following the recent flooding of the Hawks’ home court at the Athletic Complex.

Asked what issues this disturbance might bring to his team, Serresse looked at the situation as a challenge his team will have to overcome, adversity that his players can grow from.

He joked “It doesn’t matter where we play. We will play on the soccer field, in the parking lot, in the snow!”

Another wrinkle in what has been a season of ebs and flows, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Source: laurierathletics.com

 


 

Ryerson 89 Nipissing 79

NORTH BAY, Ont. - The curse of 2018 is lifted. The Ryerson Rams took the lead early and didn’t look back, defeating the Nipissing Lakers 89-79 Saturday night at the Robert J. Surtees Student Athletic Centre. The victory is the Rams’ first since returning from the winter break.

While Manny Diressa (Toronto, Ont.) dazzled with an individual performance the previous night against the Laurentian Voyageurs, Diressa and Myles Charvis (Mississauga, Ont.) showed the chemistry remains between the two experienced guards to lead the Rams to victory. The two put up similar numbers - though Diressa lead scoring with 29 pts to Charvis’ 19 - and were a major factor in keeping the Rams up with shots from the three despite trailing the Lakers in field goal percentage.

Warsame Mohamed (Toronto, Ont.) also impressed, posting a career-best 14 points coming off the bench. The landmark for Mohamed cleanly surpassed his previous best of 10 against the Guelph Gryphons in the first half of this season. Making his most significant time and point contributions of the season by far, it’s entirely possible that fans can expect to see Mohamed’s progression rewarded with more playing time.

The game dwindled down more to the shots that were missed than those that were made, with the first quarter showing that there was potential for a defensive, low-scoring bout as the score stood at 16-9. Rebounds were abundant and early equal, with the Lakers slightly edging the Rams with a staggering 34 to 33. Eight of those belonged to J.V. Mukama (Hamilton, Ont.), with his seven defensive rebounds keeping the game just out of reach of the opponents. The tide turner in favour of the Rams was the Lakers’ tendency for turnovers, with 12 compared to the Rams’ three.

Source: ryersonrams.ca

 


 

Brock 78 Algoma 62

The No. 2 ranked Brock University men's basketball team improve to 12-2 on the season as they defeated the Algoma Thunderbirds by the score of 78-62 Saturday night on the road.

Brock had three players in double figures led by Dani Elgadi who added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double. Tyler Brown contributed with 10 points and six rebounds while Johneil Simpson added 10 points including 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. Daniel CayerCassidy Ryan and Trevor Thompson chipped in with nine, eight and eight points respectively.

For the Thunderbirds, Jermaine Lyle and Pedro Costa both added 13 points each respectively.

For the game, Brock shot 39.4% (28-71) from beyond the field, 45.0% (9-20) from beyond the arc and 81.3% (13-16) from the free throw line. Algoma went 19–56 (33.9%) from the floor, 6-17 (35.3%) from long range and 18-31 (58.1%) from the charity stripe.

Source: gobadgers.ca

 


 

Windsor 96 Guelph 92

The Lancers had another nail-biter Saturday night, as they came away with another close win over the Gryphons.
 
Fifth year senior Mike Rocca and Orlita paced the Lancers with 20 points, while Jones continued his impressive play contributing 18 points, Zrvnar chipped in 14, and Damian Persaud came off the bench to score ten.

Source: golancers.ca

 


 

Toronto 82 Laurentian 101

After a close first quarter of play, the Voyageurs had a surge of energy in the second, outscoring their opponents the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 31-19. Laurentian was able to maintain their lead throughout the second half, handedly coming out of the match victorious with a 101 - 82 win.

Again, shooting percentage appeared to be a strength for the Voyageurs who shot 55.9% from the field compared to their opponents 38.8% success rate. Rebounding likewise proved to be a key factor for Laurentian who outboarded their opponent 44-34.

Top contributor for the Voyageurs was second year guard Kadre Gray who earned 32 points, as he shot 58% from the field, adding six rebounds and seven assists. Another notable performance came from senior forward OJ Watson who had 21 points of his own off the bench on 8-10 shooting. 

Top scorer for the Varsity Blues was Reilly Reid with 21 points.

Source: luvoyageurs.com

 


 

Ottawa 66 Queen’s 84

KINGSTON, Ont. (January 13, 2018)- The Queen's Gaels (9-5) pulled off the upset of the No.7 Ottawa Gee-Gees (11-3), in an electrifying 84-66 victory at the Queen's ARC. 

The win is the first for the Gaels over Ottawa since February 8, 2008, when the Gaels defeated the Gee-Gees 64-48. Ottawa had won the previous 17 meetings plus an additional four exhibition games until tonight.
 
GAME FLOW

Mike Shoveller (Arnprior, Ont.) opened the game by knocking down a triple, soon followed by a driving layup by Jaz Bains (Brampton, Ont.) to get the Gaels going early on offence.

Half-way through the first, the Gee-Gees managed to take the lead as they broke down the Gaels defensive play. Tanner Graham (Kingston, Ont.) got himself on the board, with a put-back dunk late in the frame and a last-second half-court shot by Sammy Ayisi (Toronto) put the Gaels within 12 at 26-14 to close the opening quarter.

The Gaels put together a large run late into the second, with points by Harry Range (Ottawa), Vincent Wood (Toronto), and topped off by a fast-break three from Bains to re-take the lead. Despite this, the Gee-Gees still managed to end the first half on top, 40-35.

Mike Shoveller opened up the third quarter by grabbing an offensive board and sinking the second-chance shot. The first five minutes saw the Gaels go on an impressive 17-4 run on the Gee-Gees, thanks to their excellent play on the boards.

The Gaels led by eight, mid-way through the third, forcing Ottawa to take a timeout. Bains was able to knock down a mid-range fade-away to make it a 10-point lead. The Gee-Gees slowly began to close the gap on the Gaels, but Elcock ended their momentum, with a quick jump-shot. The Gaels held the lead at the end of the quarter, 56-49.

Tanner Graham opened the final quarter with a step-back jumper, that was soon answered by a three from the Gee-Gees. 

The Gee-Gees came out of a timeout, looking to mount their own run. They managed to cut the deficit to 10, with a big 3-pointer and followed that up with a layup. Mike Shoveller shut-down that run with his own hook-shot. Both teams were trading blows, but a triple by Wood would force Ottawa into another timeout. The Gee-Gees would never recover, and Gaels walked away with the upset. The final score on the night was Queen's 84 and Ottawa 66.

Source: gogaelsgo.com

 


 

Carleton 78 York 68

TORONTO, ON – Despite entering Saturday night action sporting a 2-11 record and losing 10 straight games, the York University Lions were determined to punch above their weight against the Carleton Ravens. The Lions took the Ravens to the brink before Carleton pulled ahead in the fourth quarter to secure a 78-68 victory.

Second-year forward Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, ON) had a bounce back performance and recorded 21 points on a highly efficient 6-for-7 performance from the field, while also shooting 9-of-14 from the free throw line and hauling in seven rebounds.

GAME FLOW:

Carleton set the tone early in the game by surging out to a quick 11-4 four lead after third-year guard Yasiin Joseph (Ottawa, ON) shed his defender and finished with a pull-up jump shot. Chevon Brown answered for the Lions with a deep three-pointer. Brown scored 10 points in the opening frame to keep the Lions within striking distance, but a late three by point guard Munis Tutu (Windsor, ON) gave Carleton a 25-13 lead entering the second quarter.

The lead ballooned to as many as 17 points early in the second after Ekiyor sunk a short jump shot along the baseline. Gianmarco Luciani hit two consecutive jump shots in response before Joseph snuffed the momentary rally with a contested three-pointer that pushed the lead back up to 19. The Lions weren’t deterred, however, and reduced the deficit to 44-32 by halftime thanks to an 11-5 run to close out the second.

York’s late second quarter run filtered into the second half as the Lions opened the third on a 9-2 run that cut the lead to 46-41 after Prince Kamunga hit an elbow jumper. Joseph took matters into his own hands and sunk a three in response on a pick-and-roll with Ekiyor. Despite Carleton’s best effort to maintain the lead, York managed to trim the score to 58-51 by the end of the third after Brown converted on a three-point attempt with 20 seconds left in the quarter.

The fourth and final quarter nearly played out to a storybook finish for the Lions. A free throw by Ekiyor at the 6:56 mark edged the Ravens’ lead to 12, but that would be as large as it would get before the Lions staged their final comeback. Two three-pointers by Luciani and a pair of free throws by Gene Spagnuolo narrowed the score to 72-68 with 56 seconds left, but Ekiyor rose to the occasion in the game’s final moments and calmly hit two free throws to secure an eventual 78-68 victory.

Source: goravens.ca

 


 

Lakehead 67 Western 77

LONDON, Ont. – A dominant fourth quarter helped the Western Mustangs defeat the Lakehead Thunderwolves in a come-from-behind 77-67 victory on Saturday night at Alumni Hall.

"They showed some great mental toughness there, all the guys on our team, just to see the ball go in the basket, it was big for us," said Mustangs head coach Brad Campbell. "For Omar and Marco to step up and making some threes, we just got some confidence, and then of course once one of them made one they made multiple, and then it just maybe got each other going a little bit."

The win, Western's second in as many nights over the Thunderwolves, gives the Mustangs sole possession of second in the OUA West with an 8-6 record. The Thunderwolves drop to 1-13, and remain at the bottom of the OUA West standings.

"We just knew what we had to do this weekend, we had to go 2-0, and now our mentality going into these next two home games is to get those two wins," said Mustangs guard Jedson Tavernier. "We know we're capable of winning all these up coming games, and we're just trying to keep the streak going."

Marko Kovac was the top scorer for the Mustangs, registering a double-double, with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The forward was integral in the Mustangs win, scoring nine of the team's 30 points in their fourth quarter comeback.

Omar Shiddo continued his strong play from yesterday, coming in just behind Kovac on the scoresheet with 19 points. Henry Tan also scored in the double digits for Western, contributing 15 points in the win.

For the Thunderwolves, Mor Menashe was the leading scorer for the second straight game, with 18 points and nine rebounds. Jack Bull and Kache Kopec followed with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

The Thunderwolves got off to an explosive start, jumping out to an early 11-4 lead in the first quarter. A quick lineup change for the Mustangs saw them begin to close the gap midway through the quarter, eventually taking a narrow two-point lead to close out the opening 10 minutes.

The Mustangs offence got off to a rough start, causing problems in their defensive transition, as well as with the defensive game, giving Lakehead the opportunity to dominate early on. However, the team stepped up mid-way through the quarter, making up for their slow start.  

"Lakehead did a nice job of pushing the ball in transition, and due to a lot of our missed shots and poor execution at times, we really helped Lakehead's transition game," said Campbell. "Once we were able to make our shots and set our defence, it just turned the whole game around, and charged up our defence."

The Mustangs pressure caused problems for the Thunderwolves early in the second quarter, with several key steals allowing the Mustangs to build on their narrow lead. Despite shutting out Lakehead for the opening minutes of the quarter, the Thunderwolves managed to claw their way back, making it a competitive point-for-point affair. After a tight race to the buzzer, the purple and white went into halftime with a 30-27 lead over the Thunderwolves.

 "We knew we needed to put pressure on their ball handlers, especially with their guys playing so many more minutes than ours, you get them tired from the stretch," said Kovac. "We just wanted to get pressure on them right away and get some steals like how it happened."

After Western outscored their opponents in both of the first two quarters, the Thunderwolves flipped the script in the third, taking the quarter 25-17 to go up 52-47 thanks to their strong shooting throughout the frame.

However, it was the fourth quarter when the Mustangs came into their own, with Shiddo and Kovac leading the way for the Mustangs comeback. Lakehead's lead reached 13 points early in the fourth, before Western began to take over, closing out the game with an incredible 28-5 run to take a 77-67 victory.

"It felt good, we fully realized that we needed to just lock back in, and it started when harry came through with three or four steals in a row," said Kovac. "It just got things flowing; Nick found open guys and we were just able to knock back shots down the stretch to come back and win."

Despite their offensive struggled early in the game, the last quarter is when it counted, with the Mustangs field goal percentage jumping to 58.8%, and the 3-point field goal percentage reaching a game high 60%.

"We were just playing percentages, we were shooting terribly the whole game, we knew that eventually they would have to fall," said Tavernier. "Marko and Omar we're just sinking threes the whole time in the fourth quarter there and they brought us back, and once one guy starts hitting everyone feeds off of him and that's where that comeback came from."

"I think just our persistence is this game was really good," said Tavernier. "We fought back and especially in the end we were saying 'we're not losing, we're not losing', and everyone came together to come out with the win."

Source: westernmustangs.ca

More Than An Exhibition
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