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Mustangs inch past Gryphons
What happened to my Rangers?
Mustangs inch past Gryphons
By Paul Leeking
The Western men's basketball team got all they could handle from an inspired Guelph Gryphon squad Friday night at Alumni Hall.
Clutch free throw shooting saved the nationally number one ranked Mustangs, as they squeaked by with a 79-74 win. Western guard Micah Bourdeau led all scorers with 27 points. Forward Matt Tweedie and guard Stephen Barrie contributed with 13 each.
Early on, sloppy play plagued both teams, as the rivals needed some time to test the waters. Bourdeau was the sole Mustang who was able to get in a scoring groove early, as the game was dictated by strong defence on both sides. The teams traded buckets for most of the half, but a late 7-0 run by Western put them up 37-32 at the intermission.
The game opened up in the second half with both teams managing to get better looks at the basket. The turning point came halfway through the second frame, as Western lit things up with a 15-5 run which pushed their lead to 12 points. Guelph refused to yield to the favoured Mustangs, however and gave Western a scare as the gap closed to 76-74 with only a few ticks left in the game. The Mustangs did not panic and made crucial free throws in the clutch to prevail.
A big concern for Western head coach Craig Boydell before the contest, was how his team would react without the services of veteran forward Chris Brown. The lack of inside scoring and rebounding was evident throughout the game, but Boydell felt they generally responded well.
"As long as we run our systems, I'm not too worried about individual performances to compensate. The whole team has to play a little better and for the most part we did," he said.
Guelph head coach Chris O'Rourke had mixed feelings about his team's efforts. "We are a real scrappy team. We don't have the athletes that some of the other teams in our division do, so we have to pride ourselves on being a blue collar team," O'Rourke said.
"Every game we have a mental lapse, so usually our success is related to how long the lapse is. [In] this game the lapse wasn't long so the bottom line is that we played with the top ranked team in the country."
The win was a big lift for the Mustangs, as they return to the Ontario University Athletics West after some out of division games. Boydell said he was happy they were able to hang on for the win.
"Welcome back to the OUA West. We didn't have our 'A' game, but I still felt that Guelph really played well. We can do a better job on defence and we know that," Boydell said.
The Western players were notabaly dejected despite the win, as they have yet to realize their full playing capability. Guard Timothy Shanks admitted they still have not played the way they should.
"We have to concentrate on full game intensity. We have our spurts, but we haven't played a full game yet."
The Mustangs next play in the Purple and White tournament here at Western on Dec. 28.