Volume 91, Issue 70

Tuesday, February 3, 1998

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SPORTS
 

Nielsen shines in debut



©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
OH, I'M SORRY. DID YOU WANT ME TO SLOW DOWN? With the bench putting in a strong performance, forward Bradley Campbell [14] had some fresh legs to race past the Laurier Golden Hawks to victory on Saturday afternoon.


By Alex Chiang

Gazette Staff

Rookie forward Mark Nielsen took full advantage of his first dose of conference action Saturday afternoon, coming off the bench to score 18 points and collect seven rebounds, to help steer the Western men's basketball team en route to a 91-72 win over the visiting Laurier Golden Hawks.

After watching Western's first five games on the sidelines, the six-foot-five Nielsen got an opportunity to play Saturday because of an injury to one of the team's big men, Chris Brown.

"It's a question of staying focused while on the bench which is sometimes tough," Nielsen said. "The coach told me just to relax and that the offence would come to me. I got open a couple of times for some open shots."

Mustang head coach Craig Boydell admitted that he certainly didn't expect to get an 18-point performance from Nielsen.

"Mark had been sitting patiently on the chance and we decided to give him a chance and he came through enormously," Boydell said. "He's offensive-minded and I knew that when he had a shot, he'd probably pull the trigger. He was awesome today considering he hasn't seen a lot of playing time."

If Nielsen can put up big numbers on a frequent basis, Boydell feels the rookie will help to fill the need for point production off the bench this season – an area the Mustangs have not always filled with consistency in the past.

Another promising sign from the bench was the play of sophomore forward Matt Tweedie who recorded eight points and gathered a game high 12 rebounds.

"He's a hard-nosed guy. He isn't the most athletic guy in the world, but he gets boards that you don't think he should get," Boydell said. "It just proves the saying that rebounding is mostly desire."

Micah Bourdeau led all scorers with 20 points, while Jonathan Dingle had 17 and Nat Graham contributed 16 to the winning cause.

For Laurier, conference scoring leader Jeff Zdrahal, who is averaging 25 points per game, was held to just 16. Golden Hawk head coach Mike Kilpatrick, however, said Zdrahal is still a young player who will only become even more dangerous as he gains experience.

"Every team is trying to take out Jeff because he's our best kid," Kilpatrick said. "I just hope they can do it in two or three years."

Kilpatrick attributed Saturday's loss to the youth and inexperience of the Golden Hawk squad. Laurier turned the ball over on 28 occasions, with 27 of Western's points resulting directly from them.

"We start two freshman and three sophomores. We had too many turnovers, but young kids do that," Kilpatrick said. "I'm sure it's something they won't do by the time they're in third or fourth year so I definitely like our future.

The win improves Western's record to 5-1 while Laurier remains winless at 0-6.

Next up for the Mustangs are the Guelph Gryphons – the only team to have beaten Western this year. The game will tip-off tomorrow night in Alumni Hall at 8 p.m..


To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998