Contributed by: Tyler Bennett / College Court Report Canada (@CCR_Canada)
Home is where the heart is. And for the Guelph Gryphons, it’s also where the wins are.
After opening their season against the Western Mustangs at home, Guelph hadn’t played in front of their Gryphon faithful since. This past weekend, however, they were back home and picked up a pair of wins that they desperately needed with the Christmas break just around the corner. Now, they will be home bodies for four more games around the break and will look to make the most of their opportunities to continue their climb up the standings.
A pair of teams haven’t had to worry about climbing the standings to date, as their undefeated records have left them firmly placed atop the board. But while they’ve had no problems racking up the wins – this week included – the latest stretch also saw the conference’s lone remaining winless squad notch their first victory of the season.
Here are some of the top story lines from the past week across the OUA landscape.
Guelph sweeps the weekend at home
It was a long five-game road swing for the Guelph Gryphons, but they finally returned home this past weekend.
The last (and only) time the Gryphons played at home this season was in their opener against the Western Mustangs. Guelph dropped the contest by 10 to the purple ponies, 87-77, which wasn’t the way they wanted to start their season. From there, they were on the road for their next five games before returning to the Guelph Gryphons Athletic Centre this past weekend.
After more than three weeks without a home game, Guelph made the most of their friendly confines.
The Gryphons entered the weekend on the heels of their first win of the season, when they knocked off the York Lions back on November 10th to close out the road trip. With a boost of momentum on their side, Guelph took on the Nipissing Lakers on Friday night and the Laurentian Voyageurs on Sunday afternoon to close the week.
When the dust settled, the Gryphons managed to extend their winning streak to three games by way of a pair of closely-contested victories.
In their opener against the Lakers, the Gryphons needed some late-game heroics and a strong defensive presence to preserve the victory. With 1:47 to play in the game, Banky Alade (Sherwood Park, Alta.) got a jump shot to fall that gave Guelph an 81-80 lead, one that would hold up the rest of the way. The Gryphons held the Lakers without a point for the final 2:03 and held down home court for their second straight win.
It was the start of a stellar weekend for Alade. In the win over Nipissing, he finished with a team-high 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds. That was a sign of things to come for the third-year forward, who one-upped himself on Sunday against the Voyageurs.
In their second game of the weekend, Guelph had their hands full with Kadre Gray (Toronto, ON) and company. The reigning MVP had his full arsenal on display against the Gryphons, finishing with 33 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists. Alade and the Gryphons, however, still overcame the well-rounded performance to secure the seven-point victory, 83-76.
In the win, Alade recorded his third straight double-double, finishing with 29 points and 20 rebounds.
For the weekend, Alade averaged 25.5 points and 16.0 rebounds per game in the team’s two wins.
So while the road wasn’t too kind to the Gryphons, they can now continue their home cooking and enjoy four straight games on their home floor; two each on either side of the Christmas break. They’ll see action against the Ottawa Gee-Gees and Carleton Ravens to close out the fall portion of the schedule next weekend.
Waterloo picks up first win of the season
Every team is now in the win column.
Coming into the weekend, the Waterloo Warriors were the lone team in the OUA without a win to their name in 2018-19. After knocking off the Acadia Axemen in their first exhibition game of the season, the Warriors had dropped 11 straight games, five of which came in league play. All their league losses had come by at least 14 points, but all it takes is one game to turn things around.
A week after their women’s team cracked the win column for the first time, Waterloo’s men’s squad hit the road for a pair of games against the Lions and Gaels. Winning on the road is never an easy task, but the Warriors put forth their best game of the season to score the victory over York.
Coming into their game with the Lions on Friday, the most points that the Warriors had scored in an OUA game this season was 75, albeit in a losing effort against the McMaster Marauders. Against the Lions, Waterloo’s offence erupted for 96 points in their five-point win. They held a lead after each quarter, and while York made things interesting in the final frame, the Warriors were able to come away with a hard-fought first victory.
The Warriors’ big-two of Nedim Hodzic (Waterloo, ON) and Simon Petrov (Waterloo, ON) led the way in the win. Hodzic paced the team with 28 points to go along with 15 rebounds and four assists. It was his second double-double of the season. Not to be outdone, Petrov finished the night with 27 points of his own, while also adding three rebounds and two steals.
While it was fun while it lasted, Waterloo’s winning streak ended at just one game. On Saturday, the Warriors dropped their seventh game of the season, losing 83-75 against Queen’s to halt any chance of an extended winning streak. The Warriors held a six-point lead at the half, but were unable to hold on down the stretch for the win. A big third quarter gave the Gaels a three-point lead heading into the fourth and final frame; a lead they would build on right down to the final buzzer.
Ryerson beats Brock at the Meridian Centre
The Ryerson Rams and Brock Badgers are two of the top teams in the OUA and they put their talents on display inside the Meridian Centre in front of over 3,200 fans on Saturday.
It was a double-header for the Rams and Badgers. The women’s teams took to the court to kick off the evening, followed by the men’s game. After the Rams handled the Badgers in the women’s contest, 81-55, the men’s team for Brock had their sights set on earning a split for their school.
It was a tale of two halves for the Badgers. In the first quarter, Brock was firing on all cylinders and they took a 27-11 lead after the opening 10 minutes. When the first half came to a close, Brock held a 38-22 lead, which looked comfortable at the time.
However, as we have come to be all too familiar with, it’s not how you start but how you finish.
The Rams certainly didn’t come out of the gates strong, but they made sure to end it with a massive statement. Over the final two quarters, Ryerson outscored Brock by a 49-24 margin. They had cut the lead down to seven points at the end of the third quarter and kept their foot on the gas in the final frame to overtake the Badgers and come away with the 71-62 decision.
Ryerson outscored the Badgers by 16 points in the final quarter to complete the comeback.
For the Rams, it was the pair of Myles Charvis (Mississauga, ON) and JV Mukama (Hamilton, ON) who led the way in the win. Charvis and Mukama combined for 40 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists to help Ryerson complete the comeback and take home the nine-point win. Mukama scored a game-high 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor, while Charvis finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Brock had four players score in double-figures in the loss. Johneil Simpson (Toronto, ON) finished the night with a team-high 19 points to go along with seven rebounds, while a trio of players had 10 points apiece in a losing effort.
With the win, Ryerson moves to 7-0 on the year and sit in first place in the OUA East Division with 14 points. Despite the loss, Brock remains in a tie for first in the West Division with McMaster with 10 points apiece and matching 5-2 records.