Volume 92, Issue 73

Friday, February 5, 1999


Badgers lack shooting touch to win

Young Badgers give Western a scare

Aqua dancers ready for finals

Badgers lack shooting touch to win

By Alan Russette
Gazette Staff

ST. CATHARINES – The way the Western men's basketball team played during the first half of Wednesday night's game against Brock, one would think the Mustangs had left their game in London.

Still working through an early season slump, the Mustangs managed to escape with an 81-72 victory over the Badgers.

Co-captain Nat Graham continued his stellar season, carrying the Western squad through the first half, scoring 20 of the team's 39 first-half points. As the rest of the squad struggled to find their groove, Graham was a model of consistency. The Miami native finished the game with a double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds), single-handedly holding off the Badgers until his teammates managed to find their game.

Fortunately for Western, Brock's shooting was dismal. The Badgers out-shot the Mustangs, but couldn't manage to convert on the extra opportunities, shooting 40 per cent from the field.

Mustang head coach Craig Boydell was happy to come away with the win, particularly since the squad played most of the game without all-Canadian point guard Micah Bourdeau, who re-injured his back earlier in the week when he slipped on a patch of ice.

"Nat [Graham] absolutely carried us in the first half. He was 10 for 10 [from the field] and very active in the offence," Boydell said. "Sometimes you have to survive games like this. We played a team that's been playing pretty well lately without one of our key offensive players and we still managed to score 81 points."

Heading into the second half, the Mustangs focused on running their offence more fluidly and getting to the foul line. Early trips to the charity stripe gave Western the momentum they needed for the win. Brock guard Sam Fuca tried to keep the Badgers in the game, but Western never relinquished the lead.

Badger head coach Ken Murray also felt Graham was the biggest factor in the Mustang win, but pointed to the early part of the second half as the critical time.

"Nat's a great player. He may very well be the best player in our conference. He just took over the game in the first half and in the second half he didn't have to. His damage was done," Murray said.

Graham was humble about his performance, preferring to credit good luck and easy opportunities for his success rather than accept praise. He felt it was only a matter of time before the Mustangs regained their pre-conference form.

"Everybody on this team has to play a little more confidently. Every guy on this team is a capable player. It just happens that we've got quite a few of them," Graham said. "I think there's a little tentativeness right now because we're a young team. It's just a matter of running our stuff a little better."

The Mustangs return home this weekend to face the Guelph Gryphons in the friendly confines of Alumni Hall. Tip-off is Saturday at 2 p.m..

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Copyright The Gazette 1999