Volume 93, Issue 90
Monday, March 21, 2000
CIAU glory dashed in Halifax
SOMEONE IS GOING TO WAKE ME UP AND TELL ME THIS IS A DREAM, RIGHT? Western forward Chedo Ndur fell to the floor hoping his eyes had deceived him after a last second loss to Brandon University.
By Mike Murphy
HALIFAX (NS) The basketball gods were playing favourites Saturday night in Halifax, but unfortunately for the Western Mustangs, they answered the wrong prayer.
With 1.8 ticks left in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union semifinals and the Mustangs tied 58-58 with Brandon University, Western forward Chris Brown threw what should have been a harmless inbound pass from under his own basket.
Unbelievably, Bobcat forward Josh Masters intercepted the pass, took one stride over half court and launched a 40 foot bomb that exploded right on target.
Masters' buzzer beater sent the Halifax Metro Centre into a frenzy. The Bobcats bench rushed the floor and formed a celebratory heap. The Mustangs could only look on in disbelief.
"I was just stunned," said Western all-Canadian forward Micah Bourdeau, whose illustrious five year CIAU career came to an end when Masters' shot dropped. "I pulled my jersey out of my shorts like I always do at the end of a game and just walked into the dressing room. I spent a lot of time just being stunned."
"I threw it and I thought it was gonna be long enough," Brown said of his ill-fated pass. The six-foot-eight centre said he was somewhat concerned about throwing the ball too long and out of bounds, which would have given Brandon possession of the ball to inbound under Western's basket.
"I threw it a bit short, but I just wanted to make sure somebody touched it, because if they didn't, then it comes back to where it was," he explained. "You could lock [Masters] in a gym for a day and he probably wouldn't make it again."
At the post-game press conference, Western head coach Craig Boydell said he had great respect for the way his team performed and could only shake his head at the improbable finish. "In terms of the play, what do you say to your team?" he sighed. "I thought the two-handed set shot went out about 40 years ago."
The contest stayed relatively close from start to finish, with neither team ever extending a lead into double digits. Led by the explosive offence of all-Canadian forward Earnest Ball and versatile forward Greg Walker, the Bobcats built a 30-26 lead by the end of the first half.
However, Western turned the tables in the second half and with approximately eight minutes remaining, Bourdeau drove the lane and deposited a lay up to give the Mustangs their first lead of the second frame, 47-46.
With under four minutes left, Western had extended their lead to seven, but the Bobcats came storming back and tied things up with 1:30 left to play.
The score was tied at 58 with just over 32 seconds remaining on the clock. Mustang forward Chedo Ndur was heading to the foul line to shoot one free throw and the bonus.
Brandon head coach Jerry Hemmings said he thought this was a pivotal point in the game. "They had a chance to win it," he said. "There's an old saying in basketball the game's either won or lost on the free throw line."
Hemmings, whose team lost to St. Francis Xavier University in the finals, called a time out immediately after Ndur drew the foul, in the hope, he explained, of rattling Ndur's confidence by delaying his trip to the stripe. "My assistant coaches didn't want me to take a time out," he said. "But I said 'Hey, we've got some time outs here, we've gotta ice this kid.'"
After the time out, Ndur's free throw attempt came up just short. Brandon rebounded and went down for the final possession but could not get the shot off before the 30 second shot clock expired. Consequently, Western gained possession under its own hoop with 1.8 seconds showing on the clock.
The rest, as any Mustang fans would agree, is misery.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000