Volume 92, Issue 70

Tuesday, February 2, 1999


Opportunity knocks for Mustangs

Losing skid puts playoffs in jeapardy

Chemistry brings down Falcons

Opportunity knocks for Mustangs

©Dipesh Mistry/Gazette

PEEKABOO. This mystery Mustang used the ball to hide from us and seems to have sparked fear in the heart of this defender. The Mustangs split the weekend series with Lakehead.

©Dipesh Mistry/Gazette
BOMBS AWAY. Nat Graham (42) watches from downtown as he follows through on his wide open three point attempt.

By Jamil Jalal Jaffer

Gazette Staff

The Western men's basketball team had a chance to share top spot in the Ontario University Athletics West division when they hosted a two-game series with the Lakehead Norwesters this weekend. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the club came up a bit short.

Ranked No. 3 nationally, the Mustangs were expected to sweep the mediocre Norwesters but on Friday night, Lakehead's guard Ramon McElmurry had different plans.

McElmurry took an in-bound pass with three ticks left on the game clock and broke the 72-72 tie, not to mention the hearts of the Mustang supporters, making good on a three-pointer while fading to his left.

"I come out and play and when it's time to score, that's what I do." McElmurry said on his performance in Lakehead's 75-72 victory.

"We all knew he was going to get the ball. He's a great player and he hit a great shot. I was just hoping that it wouldn't go down," said Mustang forward Chedo Ndur, who had the best view of the winning shot.

Western President Paul Davenport, on hand for the game, even offered responsibility for the loss. "I called the defence for that play," he said jokingly.

What was no joke for the Mustangs was winning the second game of the series Saturday night. Their prime focus was on offensive zone rebounding and an inspired defence.

"We addressed rebounding the most," said Mustang head coach Craig Boydell. "We have some good rebounders who stepped up tonight."

Western increased their offensive boards from four in the first game to 18 in the second. Defensively, McElmurry and guard Carlo Zoffranieri hurt Western in game one, scoring 25 and 19 points respectively. They combined for only 19 in game two.

Boydell credited their offensive containment to Ndur and rookie guard, Shaun Lodge, both of whom started in the second game.

"Shaun's defence was incredible and Chedo did an unbelievable job on [McElmurry] tonight," Boydell said.

Although forwards Chris Brown and Micah Bourdeau shot well in the loss, knocking down 19 points each, the difference for the Mustangs in game two proved to be getting more open looks and more trips to the free-throw line. Western got to the charity stripe 24 more times than Lakehead, making good on 73 per cent of their attempts.

Leading the way for the Mustangs were Ndur and forward Nat Graham who shot 11-14 and 8-12, respectively, from the free-throw line.

Graham was the most consistent player of the series, shooting 61 per cent from the field and 76 per cent from the free-throw line, while leading the team in rebounds. Forward Rich Tamminga and guard Stephen Barrie gave the Mustangs some solid minutes off the bench.

With the split, Western remains in second behind McMaster in the West.

"It was disappointing because we had the thing in our hands and since Mac was beaten by Windsor we gave it back again, or should I say, somebody took it away from us," Boydell said, referring to McElmurry. "We left the door open and they slammed it in our face."

Western's next contest is tomorrow night when they travel to Brock and try to lock up first place. The next home game is this Saturday against Guelph at 2 p.m. at Thames Hall Gym.

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