Mustangs board the "K-train"
Three-peat for Mustangs
Marauders up ante for next contest
Mustangs board the "K-train"
By Ryan Hickman
On Saturday afternoon, the Western Mustangs men's basketball team boarded the Kwiatkowski train and rode it all over the McMaster Marauders.
Another chapter in the intense and exciting rivalry between Western and McMaster was written with a 78-75 Mustang win. The Marauders, considered a rebuilding team and too young to challenge the nation's second-ranked Mustangs, pushed Western to the wire in their first meeting since last year's Ontario University Athletics West division final.
Andy Kwiatkowski stepped up for the Mustangs whenever they needed it.
"Andy's the best player in the country," said Mustangs head coach, Craig Boydell. "It's because he does so many other things than score."
HE COULD BE THE JOLLY GREEN GIANT, IF HE
WERE LESS PINK AND MORE JOLLY. Mustang Chris Brown goes for the
dunk, much to the dismay of the Marauders, who lost 78-75.
|Kwiatkowski displayed his other skills at the most opportune time against the Mac attack. With 33 seconds left in the game, the Marauders were inbounding under their own basket with a 75-74 lead. The pass went into the corner and Kwiatkowski nabbed the ball and called a time-out with 27 seconds left. The steal was the biggest of his nine this day.
"No one was more surprised than me with the steal. I think that was the first time all year that I stole the ball from a smaller guard," Kwiatkowski explained after the game.
Coming out of the time-out, the Mustangs ran an inbounds play and point guard Jimmy Grozelle hit the Big K through the lane. Kwiatkowski then flipped the ball in for a 76-75 lead with 13 seconds left.
That clutch bucket finished Kwiatkowski's huge day off with 29 points, four rebounds and three assists to go along with his nine steals.
"He works like a bear. Even though he did not have a lot of rebounds today, he creates things for everyone else. He's always underneath, working hard," Boydell said.
Fifth-year forward Chedo Ndur complemented Kwiatkowski's tough nature with an unmatched intensity on defense and the glass, making some big stops down the stretch.
Ndur, who finished with seven points and six rebounds, said the team tries to be intense in every game. "We're trying down the stretch to play intense against not only McMaster, but against every team."
The Marauders were down by 10 after 20 minutes, mostly the result of 15 turnovers in the first half. In the second half, McMaster battled back and harnessed the Mustangs with alternating defenses and an ability to capitalize on the offensive end.
The last 10 minutes, the two teams went blow for blow with Jimmy Grozelle's flawless free throw shooting and a huge three keeping the Mustangs in the ball game. Grozelle was six for six down the stretch and iced the game with two free throws in the final seconds. He finished the afternoon with 18 points and nine helpers.
It was big plays by the big players in critical moments that pushed the Mustangs over the edge.
"Game-ending teams are championship teams and this is that team," Boydell said of his club.
Marauder head coach Joe Raso noted the Mustangs' dominance. "You have to play a flawless game to beat them. We have played everyone in the country and Western is the best team."
The rivalry that has become an all-out war continues next Saturday in Hamilton.